Six Things to Remember After We Forgive
What exactly are we supposed to forget after we forgive? While we may struggle to forget the betrayal, disappointment, humiliation or the loss caused by the offense, we do not want to forget the positive effects of forgiveness which can empower us to become stronger and wiser.
Here are six valuable by-products of forgiveness which we do well to remember whenever the anger and hurt from a previous offense try to invade our minds.
(1) The Good Side
There is a story (Genesis 50:15-21) about a Canaanite young man named Joseph, who was sold to Egyptian merchants by his jealous brothers. He forgave his offenders and in his search for the good side, his honesty and productivity made him become the second most powerful man in Egypt, next to the Pharaoh.
Years passed. Famine struck Canaan, and Joseph’s brothers journeyed to Egypt to buy food, Joseph arranged for them to obtain as much as they wanted, and was happy to let them know, “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” Who could have guessed that the good side had benefits for both the offended and the offenders?
Remember that the good side may be temporarily hidden from our view. We may have to search for it, but be convinced that it exists.
(2) The Lessons Learned
Remember that there are lessons to be learned from adverse circumstances; and that the lessons count toward our education for life.
- Have we learned the consequences of ignoring red flags that wave at us?
- Have we learned the value of setting boundaries to keep out unwanted behavior and keep in the standards we choose to live by?
- Have we learned not to take for granted issues that other people consider significant?
These are the kinds of lessons to list under our experience résumé. They come in handy when similar situations threaten our stability on future jobs and in future relationships. Lessons learned enable us to thank offenders for helping us to grow.
(3) Our Need for Forgiveness
Do we walk away haughtily after we forgive? Or, do we seem humble and reflective, recognizing that we also have flaws?
We contribute to some of the offenses committed against us. Sometimes the offenses are retaliation for negative behavior on our part. The other person was nearer to the breaking point than we were. Not that we deserve it, but that we might have prevented it by being sensitive and compassionate, instead of brash and demanding. One day it will be our turn to seek forgiveness. Therefore, it is important to not only say that we forgive; but also to demonstrate the spirit of forgiveness.
When we forgive the faults of others, it is not because we are perfect, but because, among other things, we believe that offering forgiveness will result in it being offered to us. We have been guilty of lying, cheating, gossiping, ridiculing and other character flaws. When we accept our guilt, we cannot help but show kindness and understanding to other guilty people.
Forgiveness is a way of saying “I understand because I can relate to your imperfection." We also hope that other people will be as understanding when they see our short comings.
(4) The Reason We Forgive
Remember that we get the greater benefit when we forgive our offenders. Nothing is more precious than peace of mind. Forgiveness removes obstacles like resentment and hate which threaten the flow of positive energy through our minds and bodies. It turns offenders and offenses into stepping stones on our way to maturity and wisdom.
Forgiveness gives us the control. We have the freedom to flip through the channels which remind us of our hurt, and settle at those which show power emerging from pain. We are free to watch and try strengthening exercises and to laugh out loud when we see our progress. We are free to focus on whatever helps us heal.
Remember that we have the power to decide; we do not have to be victims.
(5) A Second Chance
Don’t forget that forgiveness offers the opportunity for a second chance. Sometimes, in the calm that comes with forgiveness, both the offender and the offended share the responsibility for the offense and agree to begin again. When that happens, forgiveness keeps the mistakes of the past from interfering with the possibilities of the future.
At other times, one or both of individuals may choose to say goodbye. We sense a brighter future with different people on a different path. The separation may hurt and we may fret with ourselves because we did not prevent it; but the sooner we accept it, the sooner the good side comes into view. We are free to start over as many times as we desire.
(6) The Choice to Move On
When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future. - Bernard Meltzer
Remember that after forgiveness—letting go of the old hurt, and refusing to blame ourselves and anyone else—healing and renewal become our priority. We move on.
Moving on after Forgiveness
In 1995, Azim Khamisa lost his twenty-year old son to a bullet from fourteen-year old Tony Hicks. Five years later, Khamisa met his son’s killer. In his CBS interview, the father said that he expected to see a killer in Hicks, but instead he saw a soul very much like his own. Khamisa has employed Ples Felix, Tony’s grandfather to work at the foundation he started in the name of his son. He also corresponds with Tony Hicks and has become a surrogate father who promises to be there when the prisoner is paroled in 2027.
Khamisa’s philosophy is that having rescued Tony Hicks with his love, he has given Tony the tools to rescue many others. What an amazing result of forgiveness and moving on!
© 2016 Dora Weithers