What is Forgiveness?
No one escapes this life without pain. Not the kind that has you hopping around the dark room after slamming your toe into a chair. I’m talking about that searing knife-like sensation deep within your gut that lingers long after the slap of rejection or the spiteful darts of insult are silent. This sort of pain is intimate, intense, and worst of all – long-lasting. The images and words are instantly available in our memory and circle through our heads on repeat.
Funny how we can forget our keys from yesterday, but when we least expect it, a trigger in our everyday lives will set that unpleasant memory into action. It can feel just as raw and real as the first moment thanks to our emotional memory.
Broken hearts, deep loss, and setbacks are unfortunately part of the human journey and professional guidance is valuable. Yet as important as it is to develop strong coping strategies, there is one other mysterious element known to support healing. Forgiveness.
When wading through the muck of feelings associated with an attack to our inner psyche, we have far more work to do than resting a bruised toe. The delicate network of our self-esteem will require extensive self-care.
Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, but your desire to forgive will ease those ruminating thoughts. Time allows a more realistic reflection on events that often grant us a new perspective. I’ve searched to understand what forgiveness really is and how I will know when I’ve done it.
I can say that forgiving anyone, especially after deep wounds, is a process not a switch to flip. My simple definition is when I no longer hold that person accountable and I do not wish ill toward them, I have done the work of forgiving. Justice may need to occur or consequences may result for the person who mistreated you, but you can release yourself from the equation. There is a reason God directed us to forgive each other – it does wonders for the wound festering inside and allows us to be forgiven in return.
Mentally releasing someone from the clutches of blame can free us and allow us to open up to others. It will be easier to press pause on that loop running through our heads and move forward. You don’t have to return to a relationship that is not good for you. In fact, if you are not certain what you should do, proceed with caution. Doing nothing can be the right move, at least for a while.
Learning from every encounter in life is a blessing in spite of the pain and it all begins with a desire to set that person who hurt you free.