“People in general would rather die than forgive. It’s THAT hard. If God said in plain language. “I’m giving you a choice, forgive or die,” a lot of people would go ahead and order their coffin.” – Sue Monk Kidd
Forgiveness is not easy.
It’s not even easy to write about, never mind actually getting through the process myself. To me, forgiveness means that I must stop blaming, stop being resentful, and give up the desire to hit back and get even. I must try to be less judgmental. I must be finished and done with something to the point where I am over it and able to let it go and finally move on.
Sometimes it seems to me to be a never ending process that I will struggle with forever. And even after all that I may never get it right.
This months Peace Challenge is Marching Towards Forgiveness.
Forgiveness does not mean excusing or tolerating evil, and it does not absolve the criminal from the crime. People do need to be held accountable for their wrongdoing. Forgiveness should never mean having to shrug our shoulders and say that’s okay, when it’s not okay at all.
When we are wronged I believe we need to face our anger and our hurt head on. We need to vent and call it what it is. If we don’t, we will bottle up our feelings of rage, resentment and heartache until they harden into a need for revenge with no room left in our hearts or heads for anything else. We will set ourselves up for an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.
It is never healthy to condone someones hurtful actions against us. But at the same time we should try to understand that people hurt others as a result of their own pain. We need to stay in touch with the other persons humanity, and believe in their capacity to change. Forgiving someone can mean giving them another chance, not necessarily because they deserve it, but because they need it. When you forgive, you love. You stop being a victim and you let go of the pain. Forgiving others can give us back the laughter and the peace in our lives.
How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all. - Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Depending on the severity of the offense, the process of forgiveness may take days, or months, or even years. It is something that all of us will struggle with, every day of our lives. If we respond to every little act of rudeness and inconsideration with anger, the situation simply becomes worse. Every day we have a choice to be loving and kind and forgiving. Anger and hatred, if left unfed, will fade away. People who are negative and complaining all the time probably don’t really want to be that way. So smile at the person who scowls. Brush off the bad driving of the person who cut you off. It won’t be easy, but whoever told you life would be easy? Let go of the little things that don’t really matter whenever you can.
Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. – Marianne Williamson.
Every one of us has done and said things that we regret and wish we could take back. Quite possibly it happened when we were facing our anger head on and venting our little hearts out. We passed our own pain and suffering on to someone else. It takes a great deal of humility and spiritual and emotional maturity to say I’m sorry, and to seek forgiveness from the people we have hurt. But it’s the only way I know of to make the guilt go away.
Tell yourself that you are important, and that everything you do is important. You have the power to hurt, and you have the power to heal. Admit it when you are wrong, and then pay for your mistakes. Make it up. Do the right thing. Deserve the forgiveness you are looking for. Apologize, and really mean it. Will that be easy? Good Gawd no. But do it anyway.
This is by far the very hardest forgiveness of all. Forgiving yourself means showering whoever you are at this exact moment with love and kindness every day. You must let go of regrets and guilt and sadness and stop wasting your energy on worry, self-criticism and feelings of unhappiness and depression. You are human, and you are not perfect. Everything you have ever done and said and felt has been a learning experience for which you must find it in your heart to be thankful.
When you foster warmth, kindness and compassion towards yourself, you can’t help but spread it to everyone around you. We forgive our children everything because we love them unconditionally. I think we need to learn how to love ourselves like that, so that our lives will become meaningful, more peaceful, and much, much happier. Love yourself, love your day, love your life.
With every single act of true forgiveness, I believe the universe takes a deep breath and expands and heals. One forgiving heart at a time, we can change the world.