Insulted. Attacked. Belittled. Taken for granted.
We have all been there at one time, in one way or another. How do you handle a situation when you or someone you love has been hurt, betrayed, or abused? Once we get over our initial anger and frustration, we know that we must forgive in order to heal and move forward ourselves. But, that is not always an easy task. Many professionals have theories and techniques in dealing with forgiveness, and while I am by no means a professional in this field, I do believe that forgiveness has three basic steps. It’s not a simple process, by any means, and one that does require time. (Please note: Some situations may require a professional’s help in working through. I am a strong believer and advocate for counseling and therapy. There is no weakness in asking for help.)
This is not an easy task, especially if we have been wronged in a way that hurts us greatly. Forgiving is not forgetting or pretending that it didn’t happen. The truth is that it did happen and we must learn from the experience without holding onto the pain.
Forgiving is not excusing the behaviour, or allowing others to make excuses for themselves. Only someone who is not to blame is excused. We forgive when a wrong has been committed.
Forgiveness is not giving others permission to continue their hurtful behaviours towards us; nor is it about condoning the behaviour in the past or in the future. It is about letting others know that this type of behaviour is not acceptable, but has been forgiven.
Forgiving others is not about admitting weakness in oneself. It’s about showing your own personal strength in realizing that other people make mistakes and need forgiveness.
Sometimes the hardest part on the road of forgiveness is forgiving yourself for being hurt; for allowing others to hurt you. You may feel angry and betrayed with yourself for permitting the situation or hurt to take place. At times, the biggest betrayal may be in feeling that you have let yourself down in not standing up for yourself, in not stopping the behavior earlier, and in even not recognizing the warning signs in order to prevent the hurt from happening in the first place. This may even be especially difficult when the hurt has been part of a repetitive cycle. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself: but we shouldn’t be harder on ourselves than we would be on anyone else.
Reconciliation may come with forgiveness, and it may not. The decision to reconcile with the person we are forgiving is an individual choice. We can also choose to maintain our distance. Forgiveness is not always about forgetting. It can also be about remembering and learning from our own mistakes in the future. We have to move on in order to heal and to find peace. We can remember in order to take away something valuable from the experience and to prevent it from happening again in the future. Yes, we are taught to forgive “seventy times seven times”, but we were also given thinking minds and human will in order to do our best to learn from the experience and to prevent the situation from happening again.
This Easter weekend, remember that forgiveness began on the Cross: our best and truest example of what forgiveness is and the power it has.
We can find the power to forgive others, as well as ourselves, and we can find peace in order to move forward.
Strength. Wisdom. Compassion. Freedom.
(image courtesy of drbexl.co.uk)
(Dear Readers, Wishing you a Blessed Easter! May you always find strength, wisdom, compassion, freedom, and forgiveness in your heart. Thank you for your continued support. Yours, ~ K ~)