In the last 10 years I have sat through many apologetic news conferences from our countries elite. I’ve watched everyone from Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Governor Mark Sanford. In the beginning there were a lot of excuses, but in the end they all were forced to come clean. Their public scandal left each person involved with one simple choice, forgive and move on or stay in the present and never grow. For them, forgiveness was the key common denominator that mattered.
People often view forgiveness as an expression of weakness or desperation. I mean, how can someone receive such horrible treatment as infidelity and then just flip a switch and forgive the offender? Or better yet, how can someone hurt your family and you let them off the hook? These are all valid questions because there are millions walking around literally too overwhelmed with unforgiveness to even see the light of today. They live in a constant retro mentality that’s causing a short-circuit on everything they touch.
Let’s start with what forgiveness IS NOT:
- Forgiveness IS NOT forgetting: Many think you can just forgive and forget. This isn’t realistic for humans because it denies the action. It really happened and there are always consequences for our actions. Until this is acknowledged, you cannot begin the healing.
- Forgiveness IS NOT reconciliation: Reconciliation is about rebuilding the relationship after an offense. If you think about it, sometimes it is not possible to fix the relationship, but it is always possible to forgive.
- Forgiveness IS NOT weakness: Often on the outside, forgiveness looks like you are copping out or not expressing your rights. But it is the exact opposite. When a person is courageous enough to forgive, it shows they are in control of their emotions. It takes great strength.
To deny someone forgiveness does more against you than them. It’s like letting a person live rent free in your head. The unforgiveness in your heart is a poison that spreads into every area of your life. You simply can’t afford it. It is not automatic nor is it easy. But the freedom you will experience is beyond words. Here are a few tips to help you begin your journey to forgiveness:
- Start with the truth: There’s no need to sugar coat with your subconscious. Deal with the raw reality. Yes you were hurt, now what? If you don’t start with this, you will end up with unrealistic expectations.
- Give yourself time and space: It’s always amazing to me when someone hurts you, then doesn’t understand you may need to step away to process the situation. Never let them make you feel guilty or forced because you need a moment or two alone.
- Go deeper than a feeling: Forgiveness does not have a feeling. If you wait around for a ‘release’ you will be waiting for a very long time. Forgiveness begins with a decision to do it. There will be relapses, but make it a point to stick to your decision.
- Relinquish trust when appropriate: When dealing with someone close to you, there must be a period when trust is earned again. This is not holding them hostage as much as it is guarding your own interests. If a person is sincere, they won’t mind going through this process.
We’ve all been there with forgiveness, both as the giver and the receiver. One thing that will help you navigate this is looking within and giving those around you the benefit of the doubt. I have learned that people can only hurt you to the degree they’ve been hurt. Armed with this information you can make clear decisions and keep your life free from the weights of unforgiveness because it’s just not worth it.
See you at the TOP!