“Forgiveness is a lovely idea until you have someone to forgive.” – C.S. Lewis
It’s so easy to say that all we have to do is make the choice to forgive, but it isn’t quite so easy to do in practice.
How can I forgive when it hurts so much? When I feel so betrayed?
I’ve thought about forgiveness a lot, especially the past several years, and have come to the conclusion that being unable to forgive says a lot more about me than it does about the one who I feel wronged me.
To be unable to forgive means there’s some part of me that doesn’t want to. From small things to life-changing hurts, I usually find myself saying, “I just don’t know how to forgive them for what they’ve done.” Especially when there hasn’t been any acknowledge or apology of the action. While it might be true to some degree that I don’t know how to move past it, the larger part of it is that I don’t want to admit that there is some petty part of myself that doesn’t *want* to really let it go and forgive. I don’t want to admit that part of me exists, because refusing to do so makes me mean, sometimes petty, and judgmental.
And that doesn’t make me any better than the one who I feel did me wrong.
It’s not intentional, it’s just that I’ve been hurt. Forgiveness implies letting go, and that can sometimes feel like letting someone off the hook or pretending it was okay that they did what they did. It’s an irrational fear that if I forgive, I will be allowing someone else to do “it” again.
But the thing is, forgiveness has absolutely nothing to do with controlling another person’s behavior. People do what they do. I can’t control that any more than I can control how someone feels by what I do. To continue to replay past grievances only keeps me in a state of unhappiness and turmoil, and that affects all relationships and interactions in my life, even the good ones.
I’m not letting it happen any longer. I’m taking control of my life – and my emotions – and I am going to practice intentional forgiveness in every situation.
Forgiveness is a choice.
The choice to forgive is immediate. The process of forgiveness is hard work, but the choice is instantaneous.
Forgiveness is for the sake of myself. It’s not to let the other person “get away” with what they’ve done; it’s to allow myself to move on from the hurt and not allow it to affect other areas of my life.
Forgiveness involves both intentional and impact. It’s the intention (a mental/emotional attitude) to forgive and the willingness to acknowledge and move beyond.
Intentional forgiveness means I am going to have to focus more on openness and humility, rather than pride, defensiveness, and resentment, which are some pretty tough walls to tear down.
But I can do it. I WILL do it. If for no other reason than I’m stubborn and I refuse to let events of the past take up any more space in my present.
There is grace and redemption in forgiveness and that is a powerful thing.
This post is part of the 31 Days of Intention series. You can see other posts in this series here.