The Power of Forgiveness.
When I was younger I often heard the phrase “Forgive and Forget”. Forgive the person that hurt you, then forget it happened so it doesn’t affect you from here on out. But the older I got, the more ridiculous that seemed because while I could figure out how to forgive people (or so I thought), how could I just forget that someone did something to hurt me?
I mean, I definitely tried, but the feelings and memories would creep up anytime I was triggered to remember and I was right back where I started. I also started to see that forgiving someone didn’t change their behavior at all. It just gave them a second chance to be problematic again. And that’s when it hit me.
Forgiveness is not for the other person. It’s for you.
I realize I may be telling you something you already know, but this is a lesson from which I’m still learning. When you choose to forgive someone, you are releasing yourself from the chains of anger and pain that hold you back. You’re allowing yourself to live and be free from an emotion that is meant to cripple you. It’s easy to say you forgive someone but still harbor animosity towards him or her from the pain they caused you. Encapsulating those feelings only enhances the pain and furthermore affects aspects of your life that it doesn’t need to affect. In the end, you are giving that person control. And why give someone who hurt you control over your feelings?
I’ve moved on from quite a few friendships this year. Some I outgrew, some hurt me, and some were exhausting me to the point of depletion. But I’m still working through the pain of those fallouts. I’m still figuring out how to forgive them so that I can go through my life without having imaginary conversations with them I know will never become reality. (You know when you practice telling someone how you feel in hopes you get the chance to actually do it one day?)
I’ve realized that not allowing myself to fully forgive these people has begun to harden my heart, and that is not the person I want to be. The main thing I’ve struggled with is: if we forgive someone, does that mean that we have to let them back into our lives? Short answer: No. Like I said before, the act of forgiveness is for you. And what you do after forgiveness is also for you. If we forgive someone for hurting us, we have to be strong enough to not let them be close enough to make the same mistake again. Granted, people do change, but as the old saying goes, ‘Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me’.
So when it comes to forgiving and forgetting, it truly seems impossible. But for your own personal healing, it’s necessary. Everyone’s situation is different and everyone has been a victim of a different kind of pain, but when we allow ourselves to forgive and give ourselves the space to do so, we can make room for the things in our life that will no longer cause us stress or pain. Blame keeps wounds open, but forgiveness is what makes us heal.