Why should we forgive someone who has hurt us? It feels like the most unnatural thing in the world, doesn’t it? It feels like we will hurt MORE if we forgive, doesn’t it? If you don’t understand the importance of forgiveness, though, you will stay tied to the pain of what has happened and it will keep hurting you.
Think about it like Chinese finger cuffs. Your fingers are stuck in this contraption and the more you pull, the tighter they get. The way out of them, pushing in instead of pulling out, feels like the most unnatural thing to do, but that is how forgiveness works. Forgiving someone who has hurt us feels like the most unnatural thing in the world! Doing the thing that feels the most uncomfortable and the most vulnerable, however, is actually the ONLY way out of your pain!
By holding a grudge or trying to get even with the person who hurt you, you stay connected to the pain as if it just happened yesterday. Oftentimes, I find that people refuse to forgive because they feel like it is the only way to protect themselves from getting hurt again! Forgiving someone, however, is completely separate and apart from deciding whether or not you will put yourself back in the same position to be hurt again.
Forgiveness is something that you do in your heart. It is releasing your mind, body, and soul from the pain of what they did. It is accepting that it happened, feeling the grief from the hurt it caused, and then learning a lesson from it. Then, you let it go. It you have done it properly, you can look back and be sad that it happened, but know that you grew from it. Ultimately, it is an act that allows you to GIVE to the person like you did BEFORE you were hurt. That doesn’t mean you won’t have boundaries, however. Given how badly or how many times they’ve hurt you, protecting yourself may mean that you can’t be as close to the person as you were before. But again, that is a decision that is separate from forgiving them.
Forgiving someone is about pardoning them for being broken and knowing that it is their brokenness that caused the hurt. They can’t help that they are broken. Even if they know they are broken and don’t get help, that is still part of their unhealthiness. It isn’t okay that they hurt you and it doesn’t give them license to keep doing it. Forgiveness doesn’t require that they get healthy or that they change their behavior or even that they acknowledge that they hurt you. Forgiveness is about you releasing yourself from the responsibility of evening the score or setting it right. It may NEVER be set right and I can assure you that no matter how hard you try, you will NEVER even the score. Vengeance only ups the ante, it adds more to the equation that then has to be dealt with. By giving up the control of setting the wrong right, it releases your heart from having to monitor their ‘sentence’ and it allows you to emotionally move forward.
Learning how to forgive the people and things in your life that have hurt you is the most freeing thing you can do for yourself. I personally believe it is essential if you are ever to find true peace in your heart. Start small, but start today! Who do YOU need to forgive?