Lately, certain events in my world have led me to think a great deal about forgiveness. And since I have been challenged to be bolder and speak with more conviction, I have found that I need to write about this topic too.
It’s been on my mind a great deal.
Forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance against a person or group who has harmed you, whether or not they actually deserve it.
The act of forgiving others does not mean you are glossing over the offense, nor does it mean forgetting about it. It also does not mean you are condoning or excusing what was done to cause the need for forgiveness.
But what it does mean is letting go of the negativity and the need to “get back” at whomever or whatever caused you harm. It means empowering yourself to recognize the pain that was suffered and enabling you to heal and move on, bringing peace to yourself and others. It means moving forward, hopefully for the better.
There seem to be a number of benefits to forgiveness. It makes one kinder, happier and more at peace. There is also research to suggest that there are benefits to your health when you release grudges. Forgiveness makes us more empathetic and peaceful.
Also, I should note that I have seen what bitterness and holding on to grudges can do to people. It makes them constantly unhappy and always looking for reasons to make others unhappy. I am trying to have no part in that.
“I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the heart of the matter. But my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter. But I think it’s about forgiveness. Forgiveness. Even if, even if, you don’t love me anymore.”~ Don Henley, “Heart of the Matter”
Ultimately though, forgiveness is a choice, one that must be made. It’s also a tough choice sometimes, especially if the injury was severe. I can quickly forgive the fact that a friend may have accidentally forgotten to call me when he or she promised me. I may not be able to as easily forgive the friend who, for instance, told everyone else something that was said in confidence to him or her.
I really struggle with forgiving myself in particular. But that’s a whole different ball of wax and a whole different blog post, should I ever be led to write it.
True forgiveness may not come easily, or at all, but it can come with time. It’s also easier when the one asking for forgiveness does so with a contrite heart and mended ways.
The Bible (I know, I know, some of you don’t believe in the Bible…. But hear me out!) has a great deal to say about forgiveness (more than forty six passages that I read). But there is also a common thread in the verses. More often than not, most of the passages state that we need to forgive as God forgives us. Here are two, for example:
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.”Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”Luke 6:37 (NIV)
Aren’t those wonderful? Definitely something all of us could learn from, whether or not we are believers.
I struggle with this, like all humans. But in recognizing my own sins and transgressions and even outright meanness that I need to ask others to forgive, I also recognize that I need to learn to forgive the sins and transgressions of others. And while it’s taking time to release some of this hurt and anger and frustration, I am working towards that means now.
All of us have to remember something. We are all human. We all sin and have fallen short of the glory we are written for, whatever you believe that glory is. We all need forgiveness.
After all, forgiveness is part of the magic we look for each day. Without it, we cannot endeavor to be better people. Forgiveness is the catalyst for removing the division and fragmentation that exists.
After all, we need wholeness in this world.
I strive to try to learn to forgive, even if I cannot forget the wrongs done to me. I hope that others will learn to forgive the wrongs I have done to them. That is part of the story I want to write. It’s part of the future I am trying to create for myself.
I hope and pray we all try to do the same.
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