The Power of Forgiveness
When I was a younger woman, I was often encouraged to harbor ill-will towards my husband and others around me. This, to the minds of the older women who shared this particular piece of advice, was a way of obtaining "my way" in a particular instance. I learned quite quickly to hold onto resentment, ill-will and pain. I would bottle these emotions up deep inside of me and I wouldn't let them go. These resentments became my closest friends. I could take them out every now and again and examine them. What I couldn't do was rid myself of them.
I have known for a very long time that emotions have a certain power. This is a power over those around us, but it also will control us. When I first became a Christian I began to explore ways of putting my emotions in the passenger seat and allowing my actions to take the wheel. I have been unsuccessful in almost every area of my life: except forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a Choice
As with most areas in which we require more control over ourselves, forgiveness begins as a choice. There is no question in my mind, ladies and gentlemen, that each and every one of you reading this message today have been wronged at some point in your life. Perhaps when you were a young child, your parents divorced, and you are still affected by their separation. Maybe your wife was unfaithful to you, or your best friend stabbed you in the back. Regardless of the circumstances, someone has done something to hurt you at some point during your lifetime.
If you are still harboring ill-will towards the person who has hurt you, you have chosen to do so. You have made a conscious choice to feel the way that you do. It is a decision that you have made: If you are still hurting because of something that happened years or just minutes ago, it is because you want to.
"But I Don't Want to Feel That Way!"
I must politely disagree. If you have not forgiven those who have hurt you in your past, you have chosen to continue to have bad feelings and ill-will towards another person. These emotions can disrupt your normal patterns of thought. You have the opportunity to let these negative emotions go, yet you haven't: why?
Perhaps you are like me and were made to think that it was "normal" to harbor these feelings. Or maybe you think it feels "good" to get revenge or to take your anger and pain out on another person. Maybe you are just so angry that you aren't sure where to start. You might feel as though you can't make the decision to let go of the negativity and move forward with your life.
It Starts with a Choice
Do it right now. Seek out within you an unresolved issue. Is there someone who has hurt you in your life? Is there something you want to release so that you can move on in your life? Choose one thing. Start with just one thing. And then make that choice. Make the choice to forgive.
For me it was my ex-husband. When we were together he had an ongoing affair with a women who lived in our neighborhood. At the time I was foolish enough to consider her my best friend. When I found out about the affair, I immediately forgave him and asked him that we should move on with our marriage.
Later, he left me. For her. Forgiveness evaporated and was replaced with hatred. I couldn't let it go. I harbored an ill-will for my ex-husband that lasted almost eight years. I had nightmares, ladies and gentlemen. I thought about him often and couldn't get him out of my mind even once I was married again. I resented him, and I resented the woman for whom he had left me. I spent too much time focusing on them and too little time focusing on my husband and daughter. I allowed my resentment to rule my life.
Then, recently, I made the decision: I was going to forgive him. What he did to me was reprehensible. Yes, it was unforgivable! Yet I made the choice to forgive what I previously thought was unforgivable. You can, too!
Forgiveness Must be Communicated
In order for your forgiveness to truly benefit you and the person being forgiven, you must communicate the forgiveness you have offered. In my case, since I no longer have any contact whatsoever with my former husband, I used my blog as a way of passing on the fact that I have forgiven him for everything he has done to me. He may never read it, or he might stumble upon it and benefit from my forgiveness. Either way I hope that a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. I know a weight has been lifted from mine!
Wherever possible, please do try to communicate directly with the person to whom you are offering forgiveness. Call them on the phone or write them a letter and send it to their address. Express your sorrow that things have gone on as long as they have, and be specific. Saying simply "I forgive you" is insufficient. Saying "I forgive you for the affair you had with my best friend" lets the person know that you are aware that you are forgiving them for an offense that may very well be completely unforgivable!
If you can't communicate directly with the person you are forgiving, do something like what I did! Use a forum, or a blog, or even a hub to express your forgiveness to the people who have hurt you in your life. You will feel better for getting it off your chest as well!
When you begin on the path of forgiving those who have hurt you, you need to be prepared for an enormous inward change. You will likely feel as though a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders. You will probably begin to feel less confident and you will almost assuredly find yourself thinking less about the things that have hurt you in the past.
Forgiveness truly does make you a better person, and you will probably be the first person to notice that you are different! You will feel better about yourself, and you will be able to find a peace that you could never find before you were able to forgive those who have wronged you!
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