Steps To Forgiving The People Who Have Hurt You The Most
Helpful ways to lead you to healing through forgiveness.
I felt this a very well timed article considering the recent mass murder and the pain so many are enduring right now through various individual trials with others.
We tend to contintually find ourselves in situations where we have the option to forgive people who hurt us or we choose not to. How do we heal from emotional pain caused by others? Others who we know. Those we don't. Ones we are close to. Ones we are aquainted with. Sometimes it seems things begin to get better and that same person who trampled you before slices that same area all over again. How do we forgive them?
At one time or another we will all be faced with a situation that causes enormous hurt, anger, pain, resentment and bitterness in our hearts toward another. As long as humans survive, so does the opportunity for these feelings.
The process of forgiveness is a very important step in our own emotional healing. When we hold bitterness and resentment against someone else, it is not them suffering, it's us. We're the ones replaying incidences in our minds. We're the ones wishing we'd said this, or wishing we'd said that. We're the ones finding ourselves dwelling on the things someone has done or said to us. They - on the other hand - are not in bondage to those things. They are walking free, living life and your a long past memory in the cobwebs of the back corner of their minds - which makes you even madder.
It is truly a vicious cycle. But are we without hope? Never. As long as we have a desire to forgive, there's always the ability to heal.
I'm no psycologist so I am giving you advice based on what I have done to accomplish forgiveness of persons, who, to this day do or say things that continually hurt me.
In short, here's my experience so bear with me. Without giving the boring (and some not so boring) details of being married to a man who has a very violent, selfish, money hungry ex wife and two children she uses as her pawns, I can't tell you how many times she has caused us anxiety, pain, frustration and just plain 'I want to get my hands on you' feelings. These are feelings I was not ready for when I came into the marriage as I looked through rose-colored glasses thinking 'life is going to be great...a husband...two kids...a pre-made family. And the ex and i will be beeeest friends'. If reality had set in about the warnings I got that would never happen...I would not have the experience today to tell you what I have learned and how I've acutally grown through this situation. I know that I'm not alone in this situation and that many women in the world can completely relate. It is a very tough spot to be in when all you want is your own family and you count the days to when those wonderful step kids you have taken care of for over 5 years now turn 18.
While I realize not everyone is dealing with someone who continually hurts them, some may have an isolated situation where you harbor a grudge against someone for doing one thing against you.
Either way, that too - can cause a lot of emotional issues and hinder the ability to get past it and move on. In turn, the only alternative to both of these is forgiveness, right? Are you ready?
Here's my advice and it comes from a trusted source. The Bible. Forgiveness isn't a feeling. If we wait for someone to apologize to us for an offence, we may never 'feel' like forgiving. Forgiveness is a decision. It is something you set in your mind you will do and you mean it with your head and your heart.
When I began my journey of forgivness I read many bible verses that my flesh didn't like. I couldn't see how doing these things could acutally change my heart - but they did. Make no mistake, if you put your heart into it, this will work for you. I say it with complete confidence because i exercise it regularly (yes offences come that often) and I still feel free as a bird toward the ones who have done so much damage - my husbands ex-wife included.
1. Pray For Your Enemies:
'I'll pray for them alright', you say. "I'll pray they get run over by a car when they're on their way home from work.' This is NOT the type of prayer that will bring you to forgive. Though I cannot say I have never thought that myself...
What God's Word means by praying for your enemies is praying GOOD on those who have done you wrong. Pray things like 'I pray ____your enemies name inserted here____ is blessed. I pray you provide for them God. That would protect them and keep them safe from harm.'
Matthew 5:44 says 'But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...'
2. Bless your enemies:
Yes, though they may have taken a lot from you...or everything...bless them. This is another thing I know seems like an excruciating task to do. To bless you enemies is a very humbling and (figuratively speaking) flesh killing act. But it is - in fact - just as necessary to accompany praying for them.
Romans 12:14 - Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
The example I like to use of my own for this one was related to a guy I dated. He was still friends with his ex girlfriend while we were dating and though hesitant, I didn't make a big fuss of it. Apparently he had been going behind my back saying things to her about me and it came back to me through a source that she didn't like me. A while after we broke up, I just couldn't keep an enemy. I wanted to do what I could to make things right between she and I (it's the person I am). For Valentines Day, I hand delivered a card with $10 bill in it to her at her work. She had an expression of shock on her face and as I walked away from her, she opened it up and told me I didn't have to do that for her. I told her I wanted to and to use it for whatever she wanted. She smiled and I smiled and walked away. I got a call from her not long after and we became close friends. Though we grew apart over the years because she and I lived very different lifestyles, and though my friendship with her was just for a season, I would never have had that opportunity and enjoyed the time we shared if I would have let the things I heard grow consistant bitterness and resentment toward her. Sometimes by one selfless act - you can change the heart of your enemy.
While those are two of the ways you can aid in forgiving your enemies...you can add another ingredient of mine into that mix which has aided in my healings tremendously.
3. The power of the mind.
Do you remember (or currently know) what it's like when you hear the name of your enemy and your stomach goes into knots, your teeth cringe and your demeanor immediately changes? I know those feelings all too well. And one way to kick that is when that persons name comes up or pops into your head...you say aloud, or think in your mind (I like to say it out loud but if your around others it's best to keep it private) 'I CHOOSE to forgive ____insert enemies name here___'. Repeat as often as needed. It's almost like drilling it into your own head. The power of the mind is unimaginable if we use it the right way.
So there you have it - your keys to successfully forgiving someone. Please don't get me wrong....this is not an overnight or even heal-in-a-week instantaneous thing. This may take weeks, months, years. To forgive my husbands ex took me three years of doing this and though now we still deal with her junk often enough...I don't feel any of those bad feelings toward her that I used to. In fact, I feel God's love for her. It's very strange how it works, but God wouldn't say it if it didn't.
Bless you on your endeavors and if you have any further questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.