Do I Forgive...Or Not?: The difference between personal growth and being stuck in the grudge rut.
Forgive, Forget...or Learn?
concept of forgiveness is a curious subject indeed; one that many people hold
up high on the pedestal of righteous goodness yet also, often times, avoid
committing to when cornered. What makes forgiveness a more viable option than
revenge? Does forgiveness come from a higher spiritual command or is it the
ultimate sign of true human growth and inner clarity?
Many people are lugging around bruised egos and hurt feelings caused either by their own misguided good intentions or the inconsiderate actions of others. Some of these actions are knowingly committed while others are innocently inflicted. Yet, the reason many shy away from truly experiencing the “healing power” of forgiveness is because hanging on to anger and dislike of those who have caused deep hurt and offense seems to be a more deserving “just-deserts” than any form of compassion.
The power is in your hands...
is much stronger, not to mention much wiser, than vengeance or retribution, and
it dispenses the best kind of justice. Forgiveness is not a sweet old lady but
a strong, seasoned veteran of many wars. Forgiveness bears a greater burden
than vengeance ever could. Vengeance lets hatred rule you. Forgiveness
overrules hatred. Forgiveness is not only stronger; it is much more clever and
wise than vengeance or retribution. Forgiveness takes intelligence, discipline,
imagination and persistence, as well as a special psychological strength, something
athletes call mental toughness and warriors call courage." –Lewis B.
To forgive, or to be drawn to release anger and hurt from your heart, one must go through a few essential steps before the word "Forgive" can ever pass the lips and those steps start with the recognition that…
1. Forgiveness is not easy and you won't just wake up one day and say, "Today I will forgive the one who hurt me when I was in my most vulnerable state of being."
2. Forgiveness is not forgetting. Those who forgive and forget are setting themselves up to be hurt again by the same person or type of people. To forgive while holding on to the lesson learned from that betrayal of trust is not only smart but a wise way to bring proper perspective and peace into your life.
3. Forgiveness never overlooks evil nor does it allow one to place themselves in harm’s way over and over.
4. Forgiveness should not be destructive, either to ourselves or to the person that requires forgiveness in order for us to move forward.
5. Forgiveness is not approval. In fact, the reason that offenders need forgiveness is because we don't approve of their actions and find them to be, many times, morally reprehensible.
The first five seem logical enough but then the last few steps toward true emotional freedom from grudge holding become more difficult to follow. Many are steps most aren’t even sure they can accept at times, which explains the intense struggle with the idea of forgiving anyone who goes out of their way to take what they want while leaving nothing in return except for outrage, disbelief and disgust for the recipient. That can seem pretty hard to move forward from and the anger and pain of that experience keeps many people stuck in the land of unforgiving resentment.
Which steps are the hardest for you to accept and follow?
6. Forgiveness is based on recognizing and admitting that people are always greater than their faults indicate or show. In other words, don't define people just by the way they have treated you. There is more to their lives than that...one would hope.
7. Forgiveness is being willing to allow a person who has hurt you to start over again. This doesn't mean you should necessarily allow them back into your life though because being around the one who has caused so much emotional and physical pain is neither safe nor healthy and the best place for that type of forgiveness to remain is in your heart and mind.
8. Forgiveness recognizes the humanity of the person who has wronged us and also recognizes our own humanity and our own shortcomings and our own part in what went wrong. This does not mean that in cases of physical and mental abuse the victim helped cause what happened to them but it does mean that they do have power over how they allow that pain to affect them from now on.
9. Forgiveness surrenders the right to "get even." Does anyone really walk away feeling "even" or do they just feel the need for continued revenge? Let go of the desire for revenge because it is counterproductive and damaging.
10. Forgiveness means we wish the person or the group that has hurt us well. In fact, we wish them the best because this is what we would want for ourselves.
“With a little time, and a little more insight, we begin to see both ourselves and our enemies in humbler profiles. We are not really as innocent as we felt when we were first hurt. And we do not usually have a gigantic monster to forgive; we have a weak, needy, and somewhat stupid human being. When you see your enemy and yourself in the weakness and silliness of the humanity you share, you will make the miracle of forgiving a little easier." –Lewis B. Smedes
The main conclusion that can be drawn from the basic, healthy need for forgiveness is that this is a very dramatic way to both cleanse your soul and grow as a human being. Yet, it is only done when we damn well feel ready to let go of the pain, because it no longer serves a purpose in our lives, or when we have found something/someone positive to replace the negative flash-backs of those who have wronged us. It is always a matter of replacement; one good experience for every bad one until the balance returns, and it is never done one second before we are ready either!
In a world so full of petty arguments, minor annoyances and the ignorantly unnecessary acts of small minded, often times narcissistic people, learning what to let go of should not be so hard because while memories may be long…LIFE IS SHORT! Let those words echo through your brain each time you have to decide between forgiveness and revenge because quite frankly the person in need of forgiveness gets revenge on you each time you refuse to grant the release of their poor actions from your life.