To my sister struggling to forgive,
I would not have chose to write on the virtue of forgiveness because it's hasn't been an easy virtue to live in, yet here I am with the task of writing on it... God is good and always knows what I need.
I’ve had a very wrong outlook on forgiveness and the painful and vivid memories from the past didn’t help.
Sometimes it has felt as if the events from the past were happening in the present. I so badly wanted someone to see me, to notice my pain, to truly understand the depth of it because I felt like a knife was going through my whole body. It was so painful to feel unseen and unheard. For too long, forgiving was not even an option because all I could see and feel was pain.
Over time and with much support, I have come to better understand what forgiveness is and what it is not. I will share with you, sister, the truth behind my misconceptions of forgiveness, in hopes that it will bring you hope and understanding, and ultimately freedom. The journey is not easy, but I am seeing that it is possible.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean I pretend that things never happened because “if I don’t reveal, I will never heal”. || Forgiveness doesn’t mean a wounded relationship is repaired, mended and reconciled. That comes over time and it depends on all parties involved. || Forgiveness doesn’t mean I approve of harmful behavior. || Forgiveness doesn’t mean I become immediately freed of pain, as healing takes time. || Forgiveness doesn’t equate with the removal of consequences, because “every action has a reaction” || Forgiveness doesn’t mean I disregard what I feel.
Forgiveness says “I see what happened, and I see that it was so wrong. I accept that I can’t change the past. I allow myself to feel my feelings and I see that it will take time to heal. I see that repairs need to be made. I see that I need to make boundaries, not to punish but to keep me safe. I accept that the pain won’t be gone immediately. With all of this, I chose to not live as a helpless victim. I chose to not live in anger. I chose not to live in misery. I am made for so much more. I chose to let go of the anger so that I am free to love.”
In other words, I acknowledge the hurt and I chose not to let it run my life. When painful memories surface, I acknowledge them and go back to what forgiveness says. I then reach out to people I trust. I find a support group. I find a spiritual guide. I don’t isolate myself with my thoughts. I chose not to obsess over what happened. I make this choice because I deserve love, joy and peace and resentments prevent me from receiving any of these.
I begin to do things that will help me heal. I focus on my relationship with Christ, and becoming a more virtuous woman. I focus on deepening my relationships with other women who share my goals.
Because we live in a very broken world, we’ve all experienced hurt and we’ve all hurt others, especially the ones we love most. For me forgiveness has seemed impossible, as it might for you, sister. Maybe tears fall as you read and remember the painful memories. I am so sorry that you had to endure those things. You deserve joy, peace, laughter, love, fulfilment, growth and so much more.
Today let’s chose to do the things that will bring us joy and avoid engaging in the things that hold us back from it. Whether or not I receive joy and peace depends on me, so I make changes within myself to help get me there. I ask Him to use my pain to transform me into the woman He has called me to be. I look for the good in my life, as there has been so much, and I thank Him for it.
We cannot change what happened but we can control what we do next. As they say in 12-step fellowships, let’s do the “next best thing”. Let’s let go of anger, one moment at a time and remember what happened yesterday. He forgives us, even dies for us, and so now we have the opportunity to "forgive those who trespass against us".
My dear sister, if you have not yet read our posts from earlier this week, I strongly encourage you to do so. Diana and Kasia write on their experiences with anger and Sandra tells us exactly what forgiveness is and what forgiveness is not. As you go through the process of forgiving and healing, it is helpful for you to understand what you are experiencing and know that there is hope for freedom.