Being able to forgive someone or a group of people takes time and effort. It’s not unusual for forgiveness to take years, especially if the pain (your emotions are the key here) has been huge. We are emotional creatures and as such the larger the pain the more hurt and angry we become. And on the rare occasion when this hasn’t been the case it has been down to the forgiver being a person of faith, willing through their relationship with God, to put their human tendencies aside.
But what about those that do not have a God-focused life? There is still a need to move forward with life.
For you to move forward you have to be able to let go of the things that seem to have a claw-like grip on you.
Understanding what has been done and why it has made you feel unforgiving is a starting point. It is important to acknowledge how you feel because your feelings count however remember they are yours; you have chosen to feel them (harsh reality when you think about some of the reasons people struggle to forgive but the facts remain that either you control your feelings or your feelings control you).
Accept that it might take time for you to forgive; it doesn’t often happen overnight. And if you accept that you are not ready to forgive yet do not fall into the habit of beating yourself up because of it; you need to be ready to move on for it to happen. These two things are intrinsically linked.
I encourage you to visit The Forgiveness Project for inspiration. I found it by chance one afternoon and spent about an hour there, crying. I was overwhelmed by the stories, the experiences these individuals had, had but even more so by their ability to know that closure came at a price; the price being forgiveness.
You may feel you are fighting the good fight by holding your enemies at arm’s length, waiting for revenge or for the universe to dish out a dose of punishment, however, you also need to realise that as long as you hold on to the feeling you too will suffer (probably more) as will those closest to you.
There is also the need to learn to forgive you. You are human, you are going to mess up from time to time but how long are you going to punish yourself for? Holding on to life mistakes fills you with fear and negativity; try accomplishing what you truly want to under those conditions… You have to let the past be the past, and only take away the lessons that will be valuable for the future.
Know when to let go and move on. Holding on to past bad experiences and mistakes serves little if any purpose. In order to move forward ask yourself these questions:
- Who do I need to forgive?
- What am I hanging on to that has made forgiveness so challenging?
- How would I feel in my life if I did forgive this person?
- Am I willing to forgive this person?
- When am I going to forgive this person?
- What will it be like for me thereafter?
“How many times should you forgive a person? As many times as you would have God forgive you”
“Holding a grudge doesn’t make you stronger; it makes you bitter. Forgiving doesn’t make you weak; it sets you free”
“Forgiveness is not something we do for other people, it’s something we do for ourselves”
You will always have the choice to forgive; choose wisely for your own wellbeing…