I sat at work this morning with a friend discussing life and men and relationships as we usually do when the subject of forgiveness came up. It’s a funny subject, isn’t it? It’s something every single human being struggles with, yet many are hesitant to discuss. We expect it from others but often refuse to give it ourselves. We tuck our forgivenesses for offenses both petty and devastating away inside of ourselves and move on with our lives. We share what people have done to us, but we never share our journey to forgivness with each other. Why? Here’s what I think.
I think that a lot of people view forgiveness as a sign of weakness. “You forgave someone who did something horrible to you? How could you?” The how could you is not a request for information on the actual hows of how you did it, it’s a statement of disbelief. It’s more like an “I can’t believe you forgave him/her.” Because the other person doesn’t deserve forgiveness. But here’s the thing: forgiveness isn’t for the other person.
Forgiveness is not a get out of jail free card for the offender. Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself when life has given you less than what you expected or deserved in any given situation. Without forgiveness you are left with the burden of carrying the weight of what someone else has done to you. Forgiveness is simply allowing yourself to set down that burden and move on with your life. It’s a release. For you.
Forgiveness is hard. And it’s a journey. Saying “I forgive you” isn’t the end. That’s not it. It’s not a one time thing. It’s a constant, deliberate choice to let go, to not dwell, to move forward, and to be appreciative of lessons learned. But let me tell you, it is a hell of a lot easier than holding hurt or bitterness or hatred in your heart.
I’m not an expert at forgiveness. I still struggle on a regular basis with forgiving my ex-husband. But I do it…sometimes daily. Because life is short. And hatred is too heavy a load to carry and it takes up a place in my heart I’d rather use for love. So, my friends. Forgive. Every single day. I promise it’s worth it.