At some point in our lives most of us have been wronged, betrayed, lied to or hurt by another. It is very difficult in this imperfect word full of imperfect people not to be on the receiving end of some injustice. Obviously there are degrees of hurt depending on the circumstances, from someone not inviting you to a party, to the betrayal and deep hurt that comes from someone you have loved for years cheating on you or leaving you.
To err is human; to forgive, divine
Each time we are hurt we are faced with the question of what do we do with the hurt, how to we process it and how will it affect our lives in the future. When it comes to forgiving and understanding its power and importance perhaps it easier to look at what it is not to forgive, than it is to be forgiving.
Often our desire not to forgive is based on a belief that to forgive is to some how let the person of the hook .How could we forgive a child abuser, Hitler or any other person that commits a hideous crime. Yet this is based on a lack of understanding of what forgiving really is. To forgive or not to forgive relates to an internal choice of what you choose to hold on to in your own thoughts and feelings.
By being unforgiving you are holding on to the anger, resentment and a sense of betrayal. Being unforgiving you’re saying to yourself “I am not going to let this event go and I going to remain angry, bitter resentful and hurt. Being unforgiving does not change the past or hold back the person you don’t forgive, rather it is a self inflicted poison that can only lead to a more miserable life.
A very emotionally intelligent and big hearted client of mine told me what she did when she found out her husband of 30 years had run off with the successful younger woman next door. When you thought she would have rightfully punished him or made his life difficult she did the opposite. She told him although she was hurt and still angry that she loved him and she wished him happiness, she said this sincerely and honestly .She told me although what he had done brought her great sadness she recognized that he was still a good person. Who did she do this for? not him but herself, not in a selfish sense, but self-loving sense. She told me she didn’t want to have a bitter heart, she didn’t want to let him do that to her. In the process of forgiving him and letting go she freed herself from years of unnecessary misery.
To be forgiving is also to acknowledge that we too unknowingly hurt others as well. Your partner may have betrayed you but if you look back in your life and think who have you hurt, who have you let down and disappointed. We too are imperfect with faults and failings, so in forgiving others you are also forgiving yourself, as often the judgement and condemnation of others reflect what we feel and judge in ourselves.
Although being forgiving may seem hard, you can be assured being unforgiving takes a lot more time, effort, energy and inevitably leaves us with nothing. So when you are faced with deep and painful hurt, look deep in your heart and make a choice to forgive, to let go, to embrace and welcome the liberating power of forgiveness in your heart, mind and soul.