Everyone in their life at some point has experienced pain or hurt from someone else’s actions, words or decisions. Some of them have come from people who mean a lot to us in our lives. Many times that pain stems from previous relationships, and unless dealt with it will continue to impact future relationships. Studies show that forgiveness is one of the biggest contributors to healthy relationships. A book, ‘Dating Declassified’, states it this way, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die from it.” It may seem like forgiveness is for the other person, but ultimately it is for yourself. One absolute in relationships is that you will have hurt, disappointments and can grow resentful. You need to decide now how you will deal with that. Will you push bitterness aside or will you face it head on and forgive. One standard we challenge every person to live their life by is, “Deal with your anger, hurt and fears head on.” It is easy to say, but hard to actually do. How do I actually “deal” with those feelings and let go? Can I let go?
The first hill to overcome is admitting that the pain impacts your life. With my personality, my common phrase after ranting about what someone just did is “It really isn’t that big of a deal.” But yet I still cling to the words or actions of someone else. Instead of just brushing it off, ask yourself, “Why am I offended?” and “Was it their motive to offend me?” Both of these questions have immediate responses, but the true answers to these questions will start you on the right path to forgiveness. Often the reason we feel hurt is not actually the true reason behind our pain. At one of my previous jobs, I struggled with the feeling of being a part of the team. When I was at work, I felt not accepted, not liked and honestly ignored. I started to grow bitter toward certain employees. When asking myself what offended me, it wasn’t that anyone had spoken words of dislike, but it was because I was not being included in team events. After communicating my feelings of hurt and the true reason of longing to be more involved and help out, we were able to move forward as a team and I felt loved and accepted by all. Find the source of your pain.
The second hill to overcome is learning how to let go. A very smart person once said that forgiving is not about forgetting, but it is about how to move past. Maybe you feel like you can’t forgive someone because you deserve that hurt and have a right to that pain. Even if that is true, that pain will eat away at you and grow into bitterness and resentment. You deserve more than pain and hurt, you deserve healing that can only come through forgiveness. Finally, remember that when you let go, it means to let go.
Every person’s story is different, and I can’t promise that the moment you forgive all the pain and hurt will disappear. However, I can promise you that if you can learn to forgive and heal, you can walk away with life, joy and peace. So think the next time you find yourself hurt and bitterness starting to harbor, “How can I forgive and move forward instead of hanging on?”