Lesson #6: Forgive and Learn

Forgiveness does not simply mean that we forget. We’ve heard the term “forgive and forget”, but this is not always realistic, nor is it safe. We were built with the gift of memory, which often serves as our defense mechanism. At an early age, my daughter learned not to put her hand on the iron because the first time she tried it, it was hot and the blister that popped up on her little finger was not something that she wished to experience again. In the same sense, our memory serves us well so that we don’t re-blister our fingers, or walk back into the same hurtful situations we found ourselves in before. Thus, it is unrealistic and sometimes not in our best interests to “forgive and forget,” especially when the forgetting is done recklessly.

Yet, we are still called to forgive. Forgiveness means that we choose to carry no ill thoughts about the other person involved in the incident, regardless of whether or not they are sorry or remorseful. This is where the idea of forgiving for one’s own peace of mind and ability to move forward comes in. In some cases, we may never hear an apology from the other party. In fact, we may never even see the other person again. This is why we cannot base our decision to forgive on the behaviors or mindset of the other person. We may never get an apology or a confession, but we still need to release the baggage and free ourselves of the pain. This is what forgiveness is all about.

The baggage we carry will hold us back from living a life of joy, peace and fulfillment. We have to let it go, and this means releasing any ill thoughts or feelings that we may hold against another individual. But it doesn’t stop there. The ill feelings must be replaced with a sincere hope for well wishes upon the life and heart of the other person. Yes, well wishes! When we truly forgive, we want the other person to experience joy and peace as well, by repenting from their ways, through a life-changing experience, or simply through an eye-opening revelation. How the other person finds that joy and peace is not up to us, but it is up to us to wish them well. What we don’t want is for that person to remain in a state of bitterness or darkness (if that is, indeed, where they are). As long as they remain in this mindset, and as long as they continue to experience defeat through hardships, they are likely to continue to hurt others, as they did you. The last thing you want is for this person to be worse off than they were when you had the privilege of encountering them. Thus, it is clear that forgiveness has an interesting way of touching the lives of many – including yourself, the perpetrator, and anyone the perpetrator may encounter after you. You never know when your act of forgiveness was the one gesture needed to change someone’s life.

That said, let us not fool ourselves. Forgiveness, as with kindness and patience, does not always reap its rewards instantly, nor are the rewards always visible. The most important and visible reward you may see is the way your own life will begin to change as you gradually drop each and every one of those bags that you have been clutching for so long. You will feel the liberation, the freedom, the weight lifted. And that alone is worth the everyday practice of forgiveness.

Pamela Antoinette
This Hopeful Romantic

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2 thoughts on “Lesson #6: Forgive and Learn

  1. Kendra says:

    I found this blog through a random google search. God knows what you need before you really need it. I have been struggling with forgiveness myself. How does one find forgiveness with no closure (apology or acknowledgment of wrong-doing)?

    • So, here’s the really great thing about forgiveness. It’s totally in OUR control. When you choose to forgive someone, you take the power they have over you and you put it back in your own hands- that power that kept you angry, bitter, afraid, or distressed can be reversed to make you finally free.

      But your question was HOW. You first acknowledge that your forgiveness has nothing to do with them and everything to do with your choice to move forward with your life. Harboring ill feelings toward someone else is not moving on- it actually holds you back and blocks you from living a life you can truly love. So, first and foremost, you must accept that their apology or acknowledgement of wrong-doing is not the key to your peace. YOUR decision to let go and move on is… The decision comes first. The process of letting go, however isn’t always easy, and doesn’t always happen over night. Just focus on finding your peace and actually PRACTICE wishing that person well (even if just in your head), so that ill feelings pass away and you can begin to feel the weight of that pain lift from your shoulders. Practice, practice, practice.

      I could say so much more about this, but I’ll just add one more thing. Not forgiving someone who has done you wrong is like drinking a bottle of poison every time they piss you off or hurt you. That bottle of poison is slowly killing you, while it continues to give them power over your weakening body. Don’t drink the poison! Instead, ingest some good stuff (like scriptures, good advice, and positive music), and if the opportunity presents itself, heck, offer them a swig of some of that good stuff, too! Keep ingesting the good stuff, focus on finding peace, shed all ill thoughts of them by praying for their own healing, and you will find that you have moved on with your life and that they cannot touch you anymore, even if you still have to see them every day. Your healing and your ability to forgive is internal- it’s never about them.

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