First of all, forgiving doesn’t let someone off the hook. Let me make that plain, clear and simple. What forgiveness does is it releases you from being connected to the person who caused you harm. When you choose to forgive someone, it allows the painful memory to lessen. Forgiveness is giving up your right to hurt someone for hurting you. It is an act of your will.
FORGIVENESS IS THE MOST POWERFUL THING YOU CAN DO
It really is. Only strong people can forgive. Only strong people can be willing to “give up” their right to stay angry at someone for hurting them. If you are weak, you will stay angry the rest of your life. Sounds ridiculous right? Why would you want to be angry the rest of your life? Stop being weak, and decide that yes, you can be strong. It’s a decision of your mind, not your feelings. Put your feelings aside, and decide how to live, decide to forgive. Your mind will do what you tell it to, so make the decision, instead of letting your life be governed by your feelings. They aren’t always reliable anyway!
You may have done something unspeakable. You may have only told a lie. It doesn’t matter what the event was, what matters is that you forgive yourself. It is important that you reach out and ask for forgiveness. Even if the person doesn’t choose to forgive you, at least you have asked. If you are truly sorry, have repented, asked forgiveness, and have changed your ways, then you will succeed. But you also need to do is forgive yourself, and don’t continue to beat yourself up about your past. It’s gone. What happens in the past doesn’t define who you are. We all make mistakes. We all have lapses in judgement. We all hurt others when we are hurting. We all sin, but in different ways. The best thing you can do is forgive yourself, because until you do – you will not be able to love others, or show love. You will end up staying trapped in the “coulda shoulda wouldas”. If you stay there, you will be miserable guaranteed. No amount of wishing you had done something different will return time to you.
FORGIVENESS IS AN ACT OF SELF LOVE
If you love yourself, then you will forgive, because it is your body that will heal when you release the anger that you have. Do you really want to stay trapped in a cycle of anger and revenge? Always thinking and plotting of ways to get even? If your mind is constantly focused on negative emotions, you will make yourself sick. The best thing you can do for yourself, is love yourself, forgive yourself, and then forgive the person who hurt you. If you really want to enjoy life, you need to learn how to forgive.
Of course it does. When you forgive someone, you release the bond that connects you together. The cord is cut. Guess what happens over time? You heal. The painful memories fade, because it’s not part of your daily focus. You can move on in life, because it doesn’t matter what happened a week ago, a year ago, ten years ago, and twenty years ago. What is important is that you live your life focused on each day that happens NOW. There is a saying that says forgive, but never forget, which I believe is incorrect. Of course you’re not going to forget something completely, it will stay in your mind for the rest of your life, but the point of forgiving painful things is that you DO forget, and allow it to fade away. Yes, forgive, but that doesn’t mean to become a doormat for abuse to happen again. I forgave the man who killed my father in a drunk driving accident. That man did not wake up and decide to go kill Bob Bayley. Nope. It was an accident, based on his decision to drink and drive. A horrible consequence for my dad. But my dad is in heaven, and I have forgiven the man who killed my dad. I’m not angry, I’m not revengeful, I’m not out to get him and make his life miserable. I’m praying for him, that he will forgive himself, and be able to move on with his life. He has different consequences than I. But I’ve been able to live my life without anger or poison for being angry at the person who took my dad from me. The pain of his death is faded, the memory is there, but it doesn’t cause me pain. That’s what happens when you forgive.
FORGIVENESS OFFERS PEACE
It sure does. As I just talked about my dad in the above paragraph, I have peace in my heart about that fateful event all those years ago on September 18. I have no anger. None. I have peace in my heart. I can talk about my dad without any pain. I miss him, but it doesn’t consume me. If you have someone you need to forgive, I would suggest doing it as soon as possible. Don’t let hate or anger weigh you down. It’s just not worth it to stay angry.
FORGIVENESS CAN LEAD TO REPAIRED RELATIONSHIPS
Yes, it can, but not always. Even if you are forgiven, there are usually consequences to behavior. It really depends on what has transpired. If your marriage is in trouble due to a cheating spouse, it can be repaired, if both sides are willing to work on it. Sometimes it doesn’t work. A spouse can cheat, but that doesn’t mean the marriage will get back together. Forgiveness doesn’t mean relationships are automatically fixed. Both sides have a choice in what they want to do, and sometimes one side doesn’t want a relationship any more. That doesn’t mean they didn’t forgive you, it means they have intentionally decided to leave you out of their life. And that is a consequence you may have to bear. No matter what – you can still ask for forgiveness from the person you offended.
FORGIVENESS STOPS YOU FROM LIVING IN THE PAST
Why would you want to live in the past? It is a question that needs answering. No amount of wishing things had been different will make one bit of difference in your life. Always wishing for what you should have done isn’t any different for pining for something you can never have. When you choose to forgive, you are in essence letting go of the thing that binds you to the person who caused you pain. Choosing to drop it off, and leave it behind you is the best choice. There are so many good examples of this: “You can’t start the next chapter of your life, if you keep re-reading the last one”, or “your past will continue to be your future, if you drag it along with you.” Don’t live in the past, choose to forgive and move forward today.
IF YOU FORGIVE OTHERS, YOU WILL BE FORGIVEN
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about God. Whether you choose to believe in Him or not, he is real. God loves us, and forgives us. He is the only person who can forgive our sins, and remove them. He is the one and only true God that we need to repent to, and ask forgiveness. God does forgive us our sins when we ask, and as found in Psalm 103:12 in the Bible, it says “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Well, guess what! The east never meets the west, so that’s pretty far! Isn’t that great? We need to ask God to forgive us, and then specifically go to the person whom we’ve hurt and ask for their forgiveness.
If you don’t forgive others, then you certainly won’t be forgiven either. Let that sink in a little. Yes, the whole “do unto others as you would have done unto you” does come into play. It’s not Karma, it’s God’s law. In the bible, in Matthew 6:15 it also says “But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” I don’t know about you, but that would be pretty awful. Imagine God not forgiving you? Yikes! I certainly wouldn’t want God to be angry at me.
WHEN YOU KNOW YOU’VE SINNED, ASK GOD FOR FORGIVENESS
We sin every single day. Whether it’s a wrong word, snapping at our kids, being rude to our spouses, lying at work, cheating on a test, we all do something that isn’t right or fair. Some things happen on purpose, some things happen that we didn’t plan on. It doesn’t matter. At the end of every day, we need to self-reflect and see if we’ve done something that we need to apologize for. Usually, we already know what it is. Don’t let a day go by without righting wrongs. Don’t let a day go by without asking forgiveness from God.
ALWAYS CHOOSE FORGIVENESS
Would you rather pick up a beautiful rose, or a poisonous snake? When you choose to forgive, you are choosing the rose. Anger and unforgiveness is poison which will slowly kill you over time. Decide today that you will let it go, drop off your hurt and anger, and choose to cut the ties between you and the person responsible for hurting you. It’s liberating, it’s freeing, and it will give you life.
Choose life today!