I’ve been hurt many times throughout my life. Then I had to face the seemingly impossible challenge of this verse – forgiving others in the same way God has forgiven me. Since we are human, I fail to see how we can forgive like God does – instantly, and forgetting transgressions as if they have never happened.
When we are hurt, we tend to lash out – and often not only at those who have hurt us but also at those who love and care about us. Frankly, I don’t think the intention is that we should forgive in the same way that God forgives us. But instead, we should forgive others because God forgave us.
Because the hurt is real, and we are often overwhelmed with feelings of pain and anger, forgiving can be a challenge. But I have learned that forgiveness is a process that starts with an essential first step: The choice we make to forgive.
Just like grief, this is not a linear or chronological process. Often we will cycle through the steps -going back and forth between the different stages. The reason is that a part of the process of forgiveness is to deal with your emotions, which is seldom a once-off act.
It is critical to remember that forgiveness is not dependent on your transgressors’ repentance or any type of apology towards you. Even though this seems counter-intuitive, and you may feel they are getting away with what they’ve done scott-free, it is essential to know that ultimately forgiveness is for your benefit and not theirs!
Think about it for a moment. If you bear a grudge, does it make a difference in that person’s life? Do they have any sleeping nights about it or feelings of guilt? Maybe – but you may never really know.
But what does this grudge do to you? It robs you of your peace and causes you to mistrust others because you fear getting hurt again. It can lead to depression and anxiety or manifest physically, like ulcers, etc. So you can see, forgiving is really to your benefit, and it is worthwhile completing the journey of forgiving.
But how do you forgive?
Remember to give yourself all the time you need. First, choose to forgive. Then focus on dealing with your emotions of hurt and anger. Do not avoid these feelings – it is essential to feel and analyze why and how you feel this way. How does what was done to you affects you? It is only then that you can let them go and complete the process of forgiving.
Although you will have to face these feelings many times, they will gradually decrease in intensity until you can think about what have happened without any pain or hurt. Eventually, once the process of forgiveness is complete, you will rarely think of what has happened. And will only think of it when you share it as a way to help and encourage others. These recurring emotions are also why forgiving is an ongoing choice you have to make every time you are experiencing these feelings of hurt and anger.
Please remember that forgiving doesn’t mean you have to stay in the relationship. If a person is continuously hurting you, it might be best to avoid them or end the relationship. But then, if the relationship is important to you, by all means, do what you can to restore the relationship. Even if it means seeking professional help through counselling.
Please be wise enough to seek help in extreme cases of trauma caused by violence, abuse, rape, etc. You won’t be able to work through these intense emotions on your own, and it is best done with the help of a professional counsellor.
We can’t avoid getting hurt, but our choice to forgive means that we can find peace, create meaningful relationships, and live happy lives.
Thank you for reading,