Why is it so hard for us to forgive?
In real life, all of us have been either a part of or heard others say they were really mad at someone for something they said or did. A month later you hear the same story with the same emotion again.
The act of forgiveness or forgiving is something we hear a great deal about in Church but never on You Tube or Twitter. It’s not a popular concept in spite of the fact that it is an important one for each of us in our lives. (A more current phrase used in place for the word forgiveness that I hear occasionally is when someone says “let it go!”.)
We never think of ourselves as ever doing anything wrong (ha!). This thinking then leads to “why should I have to forgive when I know that I am right? They are the ones that are wrong. I shouldn’t have to do anything!” Yep, we have all been around these types of comments as well. [My reaction to all of this after the fact is who cares and what difference does it really make now?]
On the surface you could argue that it is hard to forgive because it does not change the other person. It does not take back what was said or done. This is very true. What we must come to understand is that the act of forgiveness is not an outward act. There is nothing that anyone can see when we forgive.
We are so conditioned to see outcomes or results that we have trouble embracing anything where the results are internal and cannot be seen. We have so much trouble seeing ourselves as flawed that our shallow emphasis on always being right stops us from doing what would be helpful and right for us to do.
What is sad is that we fail to see the power that our thoughts have over our lives and how we fail to spend enough time developing our feelings, our heart, and our mind in positive ways that free us to become more engaged, thoughtful, connected and involved.
You see, forgiveness is an act of letting go of our anger for our benefit not others. When we don’t forgive, we become stuck in the past not understanding that no more damage can come from a hurt that has already passed.
Forgiveness is having the ability to say that we are ok “in spite of” whatever we saw, experienced, or endured. Forgiveness means you accept the fact that another person wasn’t perfect on “that” day when they messed up, that you understand that they messed up, and that you can now “move past this” because you are ok.
Forgiveness, at its core, recognizes how quickly each one of us could “mess up” something that could not be taken back. Forgiveness, at its core, opens the door slightly to allow the other person to approach with humility someone whom they have hurt and that understands that nothing said can take back what was done.
(If the roles were reversed wouldn’t you want to show someone that you are embarrassed, felt bad, and want to say I’m sorry to them? – You need forgiveness in the other person’s heart first to allow you to approach them meaningfully and for them to be able to see that your apology is sincere. This is why sometimes when you say your sorry other people become madder at you. They haven’t forgiven you yet so they don’t view your apology as being sincere. You need the other person to also do something for an apology to be effective.)
Forgiveness gives us the best opportunity to rid ourselves of anger and clear our hearts and minds to do something more meaningful, important and constructive with that time and space that was filled with strong emotions about the past.
Forgiveness opens up our day and our minds to new things. Forgiveness opens up our day to give others the presence that they deserve when they are a part of our lives. Forgiveness shows a maturity that understands life and its pitfalls and embraces its imperfection rather than dwell on insisting that “they” must eliminate life’s imperfections that is impossible to do.
Sometimes it takes days, weeks, months or even years to forgive. In all cases, the result of forgiving is the same. A weight has been lifted from your shoulders. There has been a release of emotion that has been trapped inside. We are no longer trapped by the past.
Next to humility and the capacity to love unconditionally, forgiveness too should be developed to be one of our greatest strengths for we are all human and we are all the same. At times we all need to forgive and at other times we all need to be forgiven. It’s just the way life is. We just aren’t as perfect as we think!
We can only control our own emotions and behavior. Forgiveness is about our emotions and behavior not theirs. Forgiveness “feels” difficult but does not need to be if only we have the courage to try.