“You want me to forgive them after all they have done to me? No, no, no I don’t think you understand how much I trusted them and they betrayed me. They were supposed to love me and be there for me, but they were no where to be found when I was down and out.” Does this monologue sound familiar? There isn’t a person on this planet who hasn’t either asked someone for forgiveness or had to forgive someone. But what about those of us who have been harboring feelings of unforgiveness for a very long time? It could be an incident from your childhood that you just never got over or a past relationship where you gave it your all only to be hurt in the end. It’s so easy when people say you have to forgive someone or it holds you back, but in reality you don’t always feel like that. Sometimes we hold grudges or harbor unforgiveness because we don’t want to face the issue or relive the moment when the hurt happened. Let’s examine some different ways to truly forgive and start living your life.
1. Recognize the unforgiveness.
As I stated above, some people don’t realize they have issues of unforgiveness because it’s been there so long and has become a part of their daily lives. Your body has literally gotten so immune to you holding a grudge against someone who hurt you that even when someone points it out you get defensive and deny that the grudge was ever there. The first step to fixing any issue is to first admit that the issue is there and needs to be fixed. After you admit that you have to forgive someone the process of forgiveness can truly begin.
2. Unforgiveness not only affects you, but those around you too.
When you harbor unforgiveness towards someone it not only affects you and your health, but it also can affect those closest around you. I had so much unforgiveness in my heart towards a particular person that it started seeping into another relationship. Unforgiveness is like stage 4 cancer, it spreads to other things including people who have never done anything to you. I found myself punishing this innocent person for something they had no control over. When it was brought to my attention at first I was in denial, but ultimately it started to make sense. My feelings of distrust and the anxiety that came from it was damaging a good thing.
3. Expect road bumps.
When you start the process of forgiveness and that person is still in your life expect road bumps. When I was younger I would try to forgive a certain individual and then they would do something to me that literally made me have to start the process over. Take the expectation of change off the person you are forgiving. Just because you want to forgive them does not mean they will change. Some people will never change their ways, but don’t let that stop you from forgiving them.
4. Forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight.
I really dislike when people think that you should just be able to snap your fingers and every hurt from your past will be forgotten and forgiven. It’s not that easy! When you are finally ready to start the process of forgiveness you have to know that it won’t happen overnight. You won’t wake up the next morning with jolly feelings towards the ex who hurt you to the core or that friend who left you out to dry when you needed her the most. The great thing about forgiveness is that when you really start the process and stay on course you will eventually be set free! You will not forget what the person did, but it will no longer be the first thing you think of when someone mentions their name.
In summary, “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”