Forgiveness Means Letting Go of the Past
by Randi G. Fine
(Ft. Lauderdale, Florida)
'Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.' ~ Mark Twain
We are all likely to be wronged by others more than a few times in the course of our lifetime. Living in this imperfect world we will surely find ourselves faced with the dilemma of forgiveness, over and over.
When someone that matters to us is hurtful, we will naturally feel painful emotions such as anger and sadness. We may find ourselves dwelling on the injustice of the situation and holding grudges. Gradually these negative feelings overshadow the positive feelings in our lives, leaving us filled with resentment. This leads to spiritual paralysis and detrimental physical destruction. The stress of these self-defeating attitudes may wreak havoc on our immune system, raise our blood pressure, and possibly lead to substance abuse. We may find ourselves suffering from anxiety and depression. By clinging to the pain of the past, allowing the wrongdoing to define us, we allow the joy of the present to pass us by. Life may begin to feel meaningless. If we are consumed by the past, our bitterness may infiltrate and impede every new relationship, every new experience.
The decision to forgive is not an easy one. It may be challenging, especially when the wrongdoer does not offer a sincere apology or show heartfelt remorse for their actions. Forgiveness is a hard concept for many of us to grasp, on the surface it may seem like we are handing someone a ?Get Out of Jail Free Card,? giving them permission to have crossed the line with us. But forgiveness is all about our peace of mind. It doesn?t justify the wrongdoing, it releases us from the grip that hinders our well-being. It takes away the power we have given to the other person, releases the negative hold they have over us. Forgiveness is a promise we make to ourselves to change our life, allowing serenity, happiness, and healing to flourish.
We can sincerely forgive someone without excusing their actions. Compassion, taking the other person?s circumstance into consideration, is important. Putting ourselves in their shoes may be a very helpful healing tool. We should also look at the emotional energy we have expended on the betrayal; is it proportionate to the offense? Forgiveness is a process that takes time; in the end it is our choice whether or not to share our forgiveness with the person who wronged us. In some cases reconciliation may be impossible or inappropriate.
Through the act of forgiveness we learn empathy, understanding, and respect. When practicing forgiveness we must be mindful that there will be times when we will want to be forgiven. How can we ask for something that we are unwilling to give? We must always remember to show the mercy, faith, and love that we expect from others.