Forgiveness is Possible When You Understand It
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi
A word that makes you uncomfortable.
It is part of life. Whether you want to or not, you have to forgive.
You resist it because you know that truly forgiven someone will take you through a painful journey you are not ready or willing to begin.
You are in no hurry to give it because you have not been given the justice you rightfully deserve.
However, you have reached a milestone in your life. You have finally gotten to a place where you are comfortable with the idea of forgiving someone who hurt you. Someone that brought you so much negativity. Someone who dragged you through the mud. But how do you actually take the correct step towards true forgiveness? Well, you have to understand what it is all about first…
I was at a public place where the topic of forgiveness was discussed. And then one of the speakers said, “Forgive and forget. You have not truly forgiven, if you cannot forget what was done to you.” Whoa! That statement did not sit down well with me, especially since a good number of people agreed with him. For weeks, I wrestled with this idea. For weeks, I thought deeply on the topic of forgiveness. And now I hold the following beliefs regarding forgiveness:
1. It is not instantaneous, it is a process.
As a youngster, it was easy for you to forgive. You could forgive anyone in a heartbeat. But then you grew up and you had that one boyfriend who taught you first hand the meaning of wickedness. You eventually broke up with him but two years later, you still cannot forgive him. You need to realize that forgiveness is a process. A process that you voluntarily begin. I would even go as far as to call it a painful journey. It is going to take time. It is going to humble you. It is going to teach you patience. But at the end of the journey, you will come out triumphant.
2. Healthy boundaries should be established after forgiveness.
It does not mean you should revert back to the way things were. No, no, no! Forgiveness does not mean you need to tolerate the behavior and excesses of your offender. Heck no! Forgiveness does not mean you have to be a doormat. It should empower you to understand what behaviors you should not accept from others. You teach people how to treat you by what you allow and what you reinforce. Healthy boundaries must be set.
3. Reconciliation does not necessarily follow forgiveness.
Do not allow yourself to be pressured or manipulated into reconciliation. You do NOT have to. Reconciliation should happen IF AND WHEN you choose to. At your own pace.
4. Forgiveness and forgetting about the past do not go hand in hand.
I find this topic very delicate to handle. A part of me believes that you learn from the past to make better and informed decisions in the present and in the future. Memories from the past aid in your self preservation, that is one reason you have memories. They remind you that even though you have forgiven, you should be cautious. That you should maintain healthy boundaries until that person proves himself to you.
Another part of me believes that to make the process of forgiveness easier you have to forget about the hurt…the anger…the betrayal…the emotions connected to the action of your offender, not the action of itself. Simply put, forgiveness is remembering the past without harboring negative emotions. You need to remember the actions to protect yourself in the future, NOT to use against the individual who has hurt you or new people that come into your life.
5. It means you may have to relive old experiences/memories.
People sometimes say they are willing to forgive but then do not want to experience any hurt during the process of forgiveness. I may be wrong but I do not think that is possible. Sometimes when you are sick, you may have to experience certain pains, undergo surgeries, or take medications that may bring you some discomfort. But you know after the pain, surgery and medications, you will feel better. To forgive, the same applies. You need to go through some negatives emotions and thoughts to come out of the process of forgiveness successful.
6. It is an attitude.
To a large extent, forgiveness is dependent on your attitude and will power. To a large extent, it is not an emotional exercise. You will fail to forgive if you rely on your emotions during your journey of forgiveness. To forgive, you have to become humble. To forgive, you have to be determined. To forgive you have to forget about whether or not your offender is remorseful or has changed his negative behavior. Forgiveness is for your good, not your offender!
Forgiveness brings you peace. It brings you happiness. It brings you freedom!
Remember, always be sincerely you!