Every night before I go to bed, I make sure to say a prayer for all those who have hurt me or I feel have done me wrong. I make it a practice to offer forgiveness to these people, and I ask God not to punish anyone on my behalf, as I do not want to engage in the negativity that accompanies holding people to a higher standard than I wish to be held.
One might think that this was for selfless reasons, when in truth– at least for me– it is a purely selfish endeavor. In my daily life, I mess up at least 100 times on any given day; I often say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, and hurt the people I love the most. If I am aware of my behavior in the moment, I immediately apologize and change my actions– yet many times, I am completely unaware of how I may have negatively impacted someone. My hope is that both the people I’ve hurt, and God, will choose to let me off the hook, just as I have chosen to do for them.
Now onto the really difficult question for me: How do we forgive those who have caused us irreparable harm? Is it even possible? Or, is it a lofty, yet unreachable goal? Personally, there are people who have caused me a great deal of pain. I choose to offer forgiveness to these people, but the anger often comes back, the pain inevitably resurfaces, and sometimes they repeat the same actions that caused the pain to begin with. Firstly, even if I forgive, it is important that I not forget; and it is important that– given the option– I not put myself through the same situation again. Ultimately, I choose to view forgiveness as a muscle that I must strengthen regularly. It is a process, and oftentimes a true life-long journey.
I am reminded of both a guest I have had on my Podcast, Dori, and another woman who I met in Barbados, who both offered forgiveness to the men that had sexually assaulted them. They each explained to me that hate is a huge burden, and that the unnecessary baggage of hatred functions like a 1,000 lb. weight we carry on our backs, preventing us from moving forward and living our best lives. Their shared forgiveness allowed them freedom from this weight; it allowed them to move forward and begin to heal. They both opined that as long as they stayed in the victim mindset– which was a place that they had every right to stay in– they were unable to truly heal, as it was only when they chose to be the victor, that they were able to ultimately begin the process of healing.
And so I wonder: How do you offer forgiveness for the unforgivable? Or for that matter, is that a goal of yours? Is it even a possibility? Learning to forgive is definitely a goal of mine; I want to let go of all of it! And so, I am asking you, my readers, for tips on how you do it. What could I be doing differently?
This week, let’s choose someone or something that we can forgive. It does not have to be something that seems huge and insurmountable– just pick someone that has harmed you and choose to let it go. I promise you, it will be so much lighter on the other side!