Forgiveness: It’s More Than You Think

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So, let’s say that you’ve been wronged…wronged by your spouse, child, close friend or co-worker.  You thought you could count on them.  You thought you could trust them.  They let you down.  It hurts.  The pain runs deep inside you.  What makes things worse, you didn’t deserve it.  You didn’t deserve the deed.  It wasn’t your fault. Every day the painful video plays inside your head.  You cannot erase it from your mental hard drive.  Bitterness, resentment, and anger all start to flood your emotions.

How can you be released from this hurt?  What can be done?

Well, you’ve got a couple of choices.  And only one is the right choice.  You can choose to hold on to the hurt and spend the rest of your life with the pain, bitterness, and anger.  Or, you can choose to be released from it, healed and freed.  It’s a decision to forgive the person who has hurt you.

There are a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about forgiveness.  So before I share with you what forgiveness really is, let me tell you what forgiveness is not.

What Forgiveness is Not

  • Forgiveness is not a feeling.  If it were, we would rarely forgive others because we would not “feel” like it.
  • Forgiveness is not a weakness.  A lot of strength is required to acknowledge pain, declare it, and forgive it.
  • Forgiveness does not mean pretending it didn’t happen or hiding from it.
  • Forgiveness does not mean forgetting.  The phrase “forgive and forget” is not reality.
  • Forgiveness does not mean condoning or excusing a wrong.  And it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. We can forgive the person without excusing the act.
  • Forgiveness is not the same as reconciling.  Reconciliation may follow forgiveness, but we can forgive an offender without reestablishing the relationship.
  • Forgiveness is not based on the wrongdoer’s actions.  Even if the other person never apologizes and asks for forgiveness, we should forgive.
  • Forgiveness is not conditional.  It’s not an If you do this…this…and this, then, and only then, I will forgive you.
  • Forgiveness is not justice.  Justice usually involves an acknowledgment of wrongdoing, an apology, and some form of reward or punishment.  Forgiveness should occur whether justice is withheld or not.
  • Forgiveness is not about changing the other person, their actions, or their behavior.
  • Forgiveness does not mean trust.  Forgiveness should be freely given, trust must be earned.   Trust must be built with consistent truth-telling over a period of time.

Forgiveness is not about changing the past, it’s about changing the future.  Forgiveness accepts and addresses the past but focuses on the future.  It looks toward a future of healing and hope.

So let’s talk about what forgiveness really is.

What Forgiveness Is

It is a decision.  When you really forgive someone, you are making a decision to release, embrace, pardon, and grow.

  1. A Decision to Release

In the process of forgiving, the first barrier you have to remove is within your own mind.  You must make the decision: I will not dwell on this incident.  Don’t replay the incident in your mind.  I realize that is easy to say but hard to do.  When that reel begins to play in your mind, intentionally push the Stop button.  Realize that it will not make things better, dwell on what is good, and ask God to give you the strength to withstand the onslaught of those attacks on your mind.

When you forgive, you are also proactively choosing to release your bitterness, resentment, vengeance, and anger toward the person who has hurt you.

  1. A Decision to Embrace

When you truly forgive, you are intentionally embracing mercy and grace.  Putting it simply, mercy is not giving someone what they deserve.  Grace is giving someone what they don’t deserve.  Why show this person who has deeply hurt you mercy and grace?  For two reasons. First, because God extends His perfect mercy and grace to you.  And He showers His perfect love upon you…every time, all the time.  Second, remember the Golden Rule?  It basically says: Treat others as you want to be treated.  So when you make a bad mistake, when you hurt someone, when you wrong someone, how do you want to be treated?

  1. A Decision to Pardon

Webster’s Dictionary defines pardon as “an act of officially saying that someone who was judged to be guilty of a crime will be allowed to go free and will not be punished.”  Once someone is pardoned or acquitted in a court of law, they cannot be tried again for the same offense.  That’s called double jeopardy.  So when you choose to pardon your offender by forgiving them, you are letting go of your right to punish them for the offense in the future.  You are basically saying, I will not bring this incident up again and use it against you.  In so doing, you are choosing to hold onto the person, not the offense.

My wife, Stephanie and I have forgiven each other for various offenses and hurts in our relationship—or at least we thought we did.  There have been occasions where one of us has brought up a past offense the other thought was pardoned only to find that court was still in session on the issue.  Real forgiveness must involve a complete pardon.

  1. A Decision to Grow

When you forgive, you are taking away the power the wrongdoing wields over you and using that power towards your growth, perhaps the growth of your relationships.  You are making the statement: I will not allow this matter to stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.  Think of forgiveness as something that will change your life—by bringing you peace, emotional and spiritual healing, and hope—and, hopefully, the life of the one you have forgiven.

Forgiveness is hard.  I like to say that if it was easy, everyone would do it.  When I forgive someone, it makes me appreciate the fact that God forgives me for all my sins and all the pain and agony Jesus went through so that my sins and those of all of us could be pardoned.  Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves.  If Jesus could go through that, the least I can do is to forgive those who wrong me.

Forgiveness is a decision we make to release, embrace, pardon, and grow.  More importantly, it is a gift, a gift from God, that if we choose to accept and do for others, will bring us closer to Him and our Eternal Home.

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About wmarsau

Most of the people who visit this blog already know me so it is kind of pointless to try to describe my life in this short little blurb. What is the purpose of this blog is the question. Over the course of this last year I have been exposed to some amazing people and have made personal development an important focus of my life. Being successful, not by the world's standards, but by God's has become my main focus. Mainly, I want to work to develop myself as a person who is kinder, reaches out to help those in need, and truly makes a difference in this world. To this end I am constantly reading and am exposed to so many differnet things along the way. These have been amazing and it is helping me grow so much. Then I started to think, "Why am I being so selfish?" You need to share with others these amazing things you are learning and being exposed to. That is where this blog comes into play. As I am reading and experiencing things that are truly amazing and life changing, I will be posting them on this blog. Obviously, I will not be able to post everything in it's entirity, but I will be summarizing them and letting you know the source of the article or book they come from so you can check them out later if you wish. I want this blog to be a place where you can go to often and be inspired and leave here with a smile on your face. I will be covering all kinds of different topics dealing with success and personal development. Topics like taking action, relationships, living to your potential, reinventing yourself, finances, leadership, presenting, goal setting, time management, etc. I will also be occasionally including topics on cooking, music, and gardening because they are special interests of mine. As a little disclaimer, I have given my life to the Lord and he is #1 in my life. I am his servant and everything I do in life is for his glory. With that being said, religion influences all areas of my life. There will be references to God in this blog because I can't seperate God from this or any other area of my life. I want you to know that if you do not believe in God, that is fine. That is your choice. This blog is open to anyone who wants to better their life. I will not be trying to influence or pressure anyone into having a relationship with the Lord from this site. Please don't feel uncomfortable. You can just read the portions of the blog that you wish to. I am inviting you to go on a journey with me. We will learn together to be the kind of people we were designed to be. Anyone can make a difference in this world, but it starts%
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