We have all been there. Every one of us. No matter how perfect we try to be, we have all needed forgiveness at one time, or we have done deeds that warranted others forgiving us.
However, this isn’t about other people forgiving you.
This is about YOU forgiving OTHERS.
Forgiveness is easy when what the other person did wasn’t that bad. Yes, it still counts as forgiving, but the challenge and real test comes in when you forgive what many might consider to be unforgivable. A person repeatedly steals from you. A partner commits infidelity multiple times. Someone kills a member of your family. The list certainly goes on.
Many of us are obviously at different places when it comes to forgiveness, i.e., one of us may forgive this act or that act a little easier than another would. Where you are does make a difference.
It is also easy to expect others to forgive us, especially the more we desire that forgiveness. But how easily can you forgive others?
I am a firm believer of God. I know that He has forgiven me of my sins many, MANY times. And He will continue to do so. But why? How?
I will not sit here and pretend to know everything there is to know about God or the Bible. I don’t. I am hungry to learn more and more, but I am simply not there yet. However, forgiveness is near the top of that list.
Let’s take a second and think about a time you have really struggled to forgive someone. It can either be something that has taken you a long time in which to forgive, or it can be something where you are still in the process of forgiving and aren’t quite there yet.
What does forgiveness mean to you?
Forgiveness, to me, is about “breaking the chains.”
Often, we feel justified to not forgive. If we forgive too soon, the other person may not truly feel what they’ve done wrong. They may do it again. In not forgiving, we may feel we are in control and the other person is at our mercy. Many of us like it that way. Think about those who have seemingly remained angry of something and the level of it didn’t make sense to you.
We may legitimately be angry enough with the person that we just haven’t made it there yet to forgive them.
Or maybe you may not have learned to effectively forgive someone.
At any rate, now comes the time for you to forgive someone else.
Think about what exactly it is that you’ve wanted when you sought forgiveness from others. Was it that you just didn’t want the other person to be angry with you anymore? Did you feel justified in whatever you did? Did you feel it was not your fault? Were you truly and genuinely remorseful for what happened?
For me, whenever I have hurt someone in some way, my remorse is in the fact that I’ve let that other person down in some way. Going back in time is obviously impossible, but if it were feasible, it would be something I would very much have wanted to do in those instances. When I was younger, there actually were times that I’ve apologized even when I wasn’t wrong, simply because I didn’t want the other person to be angry with me.
I said above that forgiveness to me is about “breaking the chains.” The reason I say that is simple. YOU are the one who carries the burden of whether or not to forgive someone, whether they are remorseful or not. If the other person is sorry, it is still on you whether or not you decide to forgive them.
But what about when the other person is NOT remorseful for what they did?
Surely the easy answer is to just say they shouldn’t be forgiven. After all, they aren’t even sorry, so why should forgiveness happen?
And this is not to justify anything that another person has done to you. Forgiveness is not about making excuses or just letting others do to you whatever they please. But the fact is that people will often not be sorry for what they’ve done, no matter how blatant or horrible. Remorse will just never happen. In many instances, some have no intentions whatsoever of ever apologizing.
This is why forgiveness is so important and why we should strive to remove those chains. That person you aren’t forgiving has a hold on you, whether you want to admit it or not. The grudge of forgiveness becomes heavy after a while. Especially when the other person isn’t remorseful, where does that leave you? Essentially, they’ve moved on while you haven’t.
We like to believe that forgiveness means we are relinquishing control to the person who has done us wrong in some way. But that isn’t it. I would like to believe that none of us wake up wanting to be angry at others. But when we do wake up, we have to remind ourselves of exactly this each day. That has to take a toll on you, however tough you try to be.
Forgiveness gives you peace. Remember those times you’ve been sorry and needed others to forgive you? Just put yourself in the place of the person seeking forgiveness from you. Surely you didn’t ask for forgiveness hoping they wouldn’t give it to you. It doesn’t matter which act was worse. The same forgiveness you asked for is being asked of you.
Don’t misunderstand that to mean that you should forgive others just because they forgave you. It’s mainly to put yourself in the shoes of someone else and to at least further understand what it is like to be where they were are.
Forgiveness for me is a freeing feeling. Sure, the other person may feel like they’ve “won” in some way. Then again, they may not even know that I’ve forgiven them. Either way, it allows me to begin the process of moving on. Moving on from the anger. Moving on from the hurt. Not allowing bitterness to begin. Putting down the heavy grudge that likely I am the only one feeling, if those innocent folks around me aren’t feeling it as well.
Forgiving doesn’t mean you “lose.” You are not “weak” because you choose to forgive someone. Forgiving them doesn’t mean that what they did wasn’t that bad. It doesn’t mean that it was acceptable. It doesn’t mean they should not be held accountable. It isn’t a way to create excuses for them.
It simply means that you are allowing yourself to be released from the confinement of bitterness. It takes a strong person to forgive someone, especially in instances where many others would simply be against it. It allows you to take the steps toward peace for yourself. It’s as the saying goes: “Holding on to a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Don’t drink that poison.
Break those chains.