Learning How to Forgive
Forgiveness. This is far more than just another three-syllable word to be thrown around, joked about, or taken lightly. Forgiveness - as a concept and as an action - entails a host of other things, especially as a couple. Forgiveness takes grit. It requires maturity. It might be a process of weeks or months. Forgiveness certainly isn't easy. And because of that, it can be intimidating. So why go to all the effort to forgive your partner who has hurt you? Wouldn't it just be easier to let the pain simmer underneath the surface? The answer is a resounding no! While bitterness seems like the easier option at first, it ends being a poison to you and to everyone around you.
Believe it or not, forgiving someone is possible. And what is more, it is beneficial to you. Here are three questions to help you consider the idea of forgiveness.
Why should I forgive people who have hurt me?
This is a hard question, especially when you are in pain. Maybe your spouse said something hurtful to you, or took something from you. You are grieved, and that is okay. Forgiving someone doesn't always mean that you will stop feeling hurt or angry right away. It does mean that you make a conscious decision to stop being bitter. Why should you do this? Firstly, forgiveness actually heals you. Just as bitterness is a poison, forgiveness is a medicine. When you forgive, you are free to thrive and enjoy life, knowing that you are being the best you that you can be. Secondly, you have probably been in situations where someone else had to forgive you. Remember how it felt to be forgiven? You should, in turn, forgive others. Thirdly, when you openly forgive someone, that may be the very thing that will make them sorry. Plus, your example of forgiveness will inspire other people to forgive and forget. Forgiveness makes the world a better place.
Does this mean I have to stay in a situation that will keep on hurting me?
The short answer is definitely no! Forgiveness does not mean submitting silently to abuse. It does not even mean shielding an abuser from the consequences of their wrongdoing. If you are experiencing ongoing abuse of any kind, it is time for you to get help. Talk to a trusted friend or mentor. Find a hotline or organization that will provide help. Speak with a counselor. Go to a civil official, like a police officer, if you have to. And if your abuser's actions are considered crimes, that person should come to justice. You are a precious person and do not deserved to be abused by someone else. In any way. Ever. Once you have gotten out of the abusive situation, then the process of forgiveness can begin. But until then, your priority is to do whatever you can to find someone who will befriend you and help you get out of the hurtful situation.
How can I forgive people who have hurt me?
That being said, many of us find ourselves in a one-time situation where forgiveness can and should take place. How in the world can we forgive someone who gave us so much pain? The truth is that no one answer, or single formula, will work for every situation. Forgiveness is a journey, and it ends up being a little bit different for everyone. But here are a few practical tips that will help you take your first steps. First, you can talk to a mentor. Don't talk ill of the other person, but do express your hurt and let someone wiser give you advice. Second, make a conscious choice to forgive. Write it down. Tape it to your mirror if you have to. Remind yourself that you have put the other person's wrong behind you. Next, don't gossip about the other person to your friends. As good as it feels to trash talk someone who has hurt you, it will not help you. Ever. Lastly, let the other person know that you have forgiven them. They may or may not be willing to work things out. But at least you can do your part.
It is normal to struggle with forgiving someone. No one said forgiveness was easy! So if you need help, don't be afraid to contact me. I am always ready to hear and help you!