Forgiveness…What’s the hype?
We have heard every pastor, parent and guru go on about “forgiveness” our entire life. But why does this one word hold so much power in our life AND how do we get our hands on such a superhero trait?
What is it?
Before we decide if this is something we even want to talk about, let us define this elusive word:
Forgiveness-a conscious, deliberate, decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance towards a person or group, whether deserving or not.
Why does it matter?
And why in the world are we spending time on it…because, worst case scenario, I can secretly be mad. Right?
Listen, you totally could. But my Grandma Bonnie held my hand just days before dying of a multitude of cancers in her precious little body, and she said “Joey, you know what causes cancer?”
“No Grandma, what?”
“Unforgiveness” she said. I will never forget that as long as I live.
You may want more than just my grandma’s wisdom to lean into though. So, here is why:
It takes up space in our heart that we could have open for giving/receiving love from others.
It takes up space in our head that we honestly need to be investing in something else.
It hinders our freedom! Without forgiveness, we are still bound to that person(s)/situation.
Forgiveness is for our own good; we do it so we can grow and be happy. When we hold onto hurt, pain, resentment or anger it does FAR more damage to us then the person or people we are mad at. When we choose not to forgive, we tie ourselves to the past, blinded to all the blessings of today.
Truth bomb - Most of the time, they probably are not giving it half the time or thought as you are.
When should we forgive?
Simple answer…now. I mean there are two trains of thought on this:
1. Life is too short to hold on to these burdens.
2. The process takes time.
And both answers are correct…let’s continue and come back to this.
Who should we forgive?
Most of us tend to focus on that one person that wronged us. From the lady who stole your spot at the grocery store, your child’s teacher, the neighbor’s dog to your mother, daughter, sister, brother, husband, friend, boss, co-worker…offenses come easy when our world is not at rest.
Many of us are probably holding resentment against a group of people and some of us may not even know it. From our church, an old job, business, or team organization to the people who refuse to wear a mask in public, or the people who keep telling us to wear one, the rioters and the riotees. I mean just look around; it is really easy to find a reason to get mad at folks these days. But what if…just what if, the one person we are choosing not to forgive, is ourselves?
Only we can truly know our inner most thoughts, the things we do, see, say, watch, or read when no one is looking. Perhaps it something far more public and/or the damage is already done, yet you refuse to let yourself off the hook. Most of us have probably, or most likely still are, struggling with a rhythmic combination of all three.
Listen, I get the hurt. I get that gut-wrenching pain that sits in your spirit and feels like it will never go away. Let us not ignore the physical pain, the scars, the trauma, whatever it may be. How in the world can we ever forgive the person or people responsible for such damage?!
The truth is, holding on to it does FAR more harm to you, than good. You perpetuate your own suffering when you refuse to forgive. Period.
**Do not let the opinions of others hold you back from this important process. Their thoughts and opinions are based on their own personal experiences, coated in their own forgiveness issues. Do not let that stop you from experiencing your miracle, girl**
So, after much reading and many research hours and tons of opportunity to both extend and seek forgiveness in my own life, I have narrowed it down to 4 Easy Steps:
1. Uncover – Sit alone in the quiet and ask the following questions:
”Who do I need to forgive?”
“What do I need to forgive them for?”
Allow yourself to get totally specific here. If you don’t know why you/they need forgiveness, this entire process is sort of moot. Frankly, if we don’t get specific, we will find this issue looping back around one day.
Write it down. The process cannot begin until you have gotten this thing out of your head and made it tangible.
2. Decide – Stomp your face, yell it out, write 15 exclamation points…whatever it takes, just make the decision to do the hard thing.
3. Take Action – we can think about it until we are blue in the face, but until we move on it (a most things in life), it’s just an idea. Now you have options here, so let your heart be your guide:
a. Write a letter.
b. Pick up the phone.
c. Take them to coffee.
d. Texting and social media do not count in my opinion, only because they tend to take remove necessary elements of both effort and emotion from the equation.
e. Write it down but be really specific. “(Insert their name here), I forgive you for (insert offense here).
f. Scream it at the top of your lungs in a field or off the highway…. just be intentional and specific.
4. The most important of all…RELEASE IT – stop talking about it, don’t bring it up, don’t gossip with your girls, call it squashed, over fin’. This issue no longer carries any weight in your world. It becomes part of your story, but you are no longer defined by it.
These same four steps can be applied to forgiving others and ourselves. Easier said, than done, I know. But you are a warrior in this world, full of love and light and passion and purpose and joy and grit. You do the hard stuff so you can continue being a blessing. You can do this!
And when you do… I encourage you to step out in courage and share your experiences here in our Infuse Collection. Let the story of your life become a survival guide for others.
With so much love,