When someone else hurts us, it can upset our lives. When someone we genuinely love betrays our trust, at times, the pain can be intense. Anyone who has experienced severe hurt knows that when our inner world is heavily disrupted, it’s complicated to focus on anything other than our pain and disturbance. As a result, when we hold on to hurt, we are spiritually and emotionally hobbled, and our relationships with other people suffer, too.
Forgiveness is the best medicine to tackle this emotional condition. When life hits us hard with a difficult situation, there is nothing as useful as forgiveness for curing our deepest wounds.
While the Apostle Peter asked The Lord, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times? Jesus responded to him, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)
The Lord wasn’t telling Apostle Peter to forgive someone seventy-seven times. The number Jesus used was symbolic of infinity as we need to learn to forgive infinitely and unconditionally.
A lot of people have misconceptions about what forgiveness truly means - and they may reject it. Other people may wish to forgive but question themselves whether or not they honestly can. The act of forgiveness doesn’t inevitably come easily, but it’s possible for many of us to accomplish if we have the appropriate means and are willing to put in the effort.
Without further ado, here are our five key steps to forgiveness. As you read through them, think about how you can adapt and use them in your everyday life.
Forgiveness isn’t about seeking excuses for the offender’s behavior or pretending that it didn’t happen. Forgiveness is all about righteousness, about extending mercy and grace to those who’ve hurt us, even if they don’t deserve it. This conscious and deliberate decision is a process with many steps that frequently proceeds in a non-linear manner.
Yet, it’s always well worth the effort. Working on forgiveness can help us boost our self-esteem and give us a feeling of internal strength and safety. It can help us recover our soul and let us move on in life with both meaning and purpose.
Forgiveness, in its essence, is not something about you or even done for you. It’s something you extend toward another person because you acknowledge, over time, that it’s the most suitable response to a particular situation. Remember, forgiveness leads to emotional healing as well, and the one who forgives is always its primary beneficiary.
Sticking with the anger that may be affiliated with an experience or incident that caused us to hurt often leads to hate and a lingering desire for revenge or retaliation. Revenge is a highly destructive action and can cause an emotional drain on us even when we don’t fully recognize it.
According to Dr. Michael Obsatz’s book “Healing Our Anger: Seven Ways To Make Peace In A Hostile World,” there are eight different types of anger: chronic, volatile, judgmental, passive, overwhelmed, retaliatory, self-inflicted, and constructive anger.
With the exclusion of the last type of anger, all other types are more or less destructive. If you continue to be angry over something that occurred in the past, it may distort your ability to focus on happiness in the present.
Therefore, understand that it’s in your own best interest to let go of the anger and move forward. The act of forgiveness will give you peace of mind and help you let go of the anger more efficiently.
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In general, what has been done can't be undone. Dwelling on the past can only perpetuate the hurt feelings that resulted from what caused the problem in the first place. If we keep bringing up issues or sore points from the past, all we do is risk making the rift larger and distancing ourselves away from the gracious act of forgiveness.
In most cases, we might have an ongoing relationship with the person that may have hurt us. It doesn't matter if it's a family member, a former spouse, or a coworker because we'll probably have to deal with that same person again in one form or another.
The most effective way to get past the hurt is to acknowledge that we have an ongoing relationship, put the ugly past behind us, and exclusively focus on the future. Forgiveness can bring around a fresh start and renew a broken relationship.
Total forgiveness means that we need to relearn to trust the person that triggered the hurt feelings in the first place. While relearning to trust, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to constructive criticism.
Appreciate the feedback from those around you and never automatically assume that all off-handed comments are intended to hurt. Learn that even though some people experience communication problems, they mean no harm in what they are attempting to convey.
Besides, relearning to trust requires some degree of reconciliation with the individual(s) that primarily caused the injustice or hurt. Without reconciliation, our future interactions with others will remain negatively affected. On the contrary, reconciliation can help prevent additional deterioration of the relationship.
Just imagine what a transforming experience it will be in our everyday lives if we could forgive someone instantly - without hanging onto the anger for so long. This is only possible if we let forgiveness become an essential part of our lives and a guiding value to live by.
It takes plenty of energy to deal with anger, resentment, or distrust. As opposed to holding on to these negative feelings, why not refocus and redirect that energy into something better? Think about the good things in your life and never dwell on hurt feelings. Count your blessings, and let forgiveness become an everyday practice and an essential part of your life.
Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Well, you have the power to change that and the choice to overcome evil with good.
Peace is constructed on the choices we make and the actions we take in the small moments of our life. Allow yourself to arrive at a new level of joy as you take meaningful steps toward forgiveness. It’s the most important job any of us can do right now. Corinthian’s Corner encourages you to do yourself a favor and always make the right choice. Forgive!
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