Is the whole notion of forgiveness overrated? Can you forgive someone who hasn’t asked for forgiveness, isn’t concerned about it or isn’t around to ask? How important is forgiveness in divorce? Will anger dissipate if you’re able to “successfully” forgive? Should you turn the other cheek?
Forgiveness is so personal and very much like grief. It’s a process and not a one-time event. People go through the forgiveness journey at their own pace. Is forgiveness or making peace with your past essential for moving on with your life?
Seven things about grief I know for sure:
- Sometimes you can’t find it in your heart to forgive. You can’t put your finger on why someone would try to hurt you with cruel intentions. And you’re simply not ready yet to shelve it. You consider new boundaries in your relationship to prevent future offenses. You are still in the working stage, but seeking solutions.
- Sometimes it’s easier to blame God so you find fault. There are some things that are so difficult to grasp and understand. You lose a child, you are a victim of abuse, or you may suffer from a horrible disease. There is so little in the way of understanding why something like this would happen to you when you’ve been a good person and certainly didn’t deserve this injustice. For this reason, you tend to look to God to direct your anger and hurt.
- Sometimes you don’t know what to do about forgiveness because you never want to forget. Forgiveness is all about accepting what happened rather than dwelling on what should have happened or could have happened in a situation. You have to release thinking that it happened for a reason. It’s important to deal with the hurt before you can transition into forgiveness.
- Sometimes, it’s better to forgive than to continually drink the poison that you’re feeding yourself. Lifetime relationships, be it with spouses, parents, siblings, friends, require ongoing pardons and forgiveness. The more time and emotion dedicated to a relationship, the more likely you’ll find yourself in the position to forgive or ask for forgiveness. The more you practice forgiveness, the easier it will be to offer it without hesitation and ask for it. Staying angry and bitter is sometimes less work than forgiving.
- Sometimes you are so hurt and/or angered by something that someone has done, yet he has no idea that you’re even upset. Forgiving someone immediately isn’t always the best idea either. It’s better to feel the hurt and betrayal prior to a willingness to forgive. You have to decide if you need to have a conversation with the offender. Do you think it will change the future? Sometimes, maybe you could write a letter to the one who hurt you. But don’t feel compelled to send it. It’s all about you processing your feelings and emotions and moving closer to forgiveness.
- When you’re dealing with another’s transgression, think about yourself and your past actions. Have you hurt the feelings of others along the way? Do you ask for forgiveness? Do you present yourself in the position to be forgiven? In the book, Marriage in Modern Life by Dr. Anne Malec, it is noted that forgiveness is essential to the healing process after a hurt has occurred in a relationship. The physical and emotional benefits of forgiveness are well known, so it’s important to look at wrongdoings in the big picture.
- When you think you don’t need to forgive because it’s not really having an impact on your life, rethink your position. It may not have an effect in your daily life but there is an open space in your heart. You can fill it with more productive emotions. Take steps on a regular basis to devote time and thoughts to making amends. Remember that forgiveness is not a one-time action, but a process that takes place, for most, over time. Forgiveness is something you do for yourself, not for another person. If you keep this in mind, it may be easier to travel the forgiveness path.
How can you move forward in forgiveness?