Someone has hurt you. It is something you feel is so bad that forgiving them is unfathomable, repulsive, vile, etc. Know that Forgiveness is a journey. I have found that:
- You cannot forgive until you are ready to do so
- You cannot forgive until you are willing to do so
- This journey you are on is yours alone – it will take the time it will take
Ask yourself, “Why am I withholding forgiveness?” Am I trying to make things the same as they were before I was hurt? If so, forgiveness is not an option. To begin your journey you need to give up the hope that things will be as they were before you were hurt. Things are different, YOU are different!
The first step, but unfortunately the hardest step of all in allowing yourself to forgive is accepting that what happened to you really did happen! Sometimes we hold on to the hatred, to the unwillingness to let go and forgive, that we become one with the withholding – it becomes who we are. It is then the story of our life. This story is then shared with everyone we meet, we constantly replay it in our minds and slowly it begins to affect the other relationships in your life.
Withholding forgiveness fills you with the energy of anger and injustice. Sometimes we bury it and when we eventually tell the story or the flashbacks come back we are surprised how much anger we still have. Non-forgiveness gives you a passion. It’s a sense of “I am still alive.” You have kept yourself in the victim mode and you want to stay a victim. It has become your identity. This I have found is especially true when you were hurt as a child as it is all you have ever known. As a form of protection you stop going forward. Later on as an adult, it forces itself back out and you don’t want to let it go because you won’t know what to do without it. But there are times in our life when we have to leave things behind in order to allow other emotions and experiences begin to “bear” fruit.
Have you ever over-packed a backpack, purse, or suitcase? As you start out carrying this item (no wheels) you can feel the weight, but don’t worry about it. Slowly but surely you shift to the other hand or the other shoulder. Your back and knees begin to ache. You get angry with yourself for packing so much. By the time you reach your destination, you are hurting both physically and emotionally. This is what not forgiving someone can do to you. With that being said, let me be clear: forgiveness isn’t an easy path; for many of us it is a path we would not have chosen. But we get there when the alternative becomes unbearable.
So is it time to put the baggage down? The choice is yours and yours alone. Withholding forgiveness is valid for you as long as it serves you. Your forgiveness suitcases are too heavy. You carry them as if they were real suitcases – they still weigh you down for you are carrying those burdens. It more than likely will show up on you physically. One survivor of the Holocaust, who found it within himself to forgive, said to another who had not, “then you are still in prison with them.” What do you gain from not forgiving?
Sometimes we need to withhold forgiveness until we are ready to let it go. That means letting time heal the wounds or waiting until we come to a fork in the road – one path leading to forgiveness, the other to bitterness. Which fork will you take? Until you are ready, remember to: Never give up! You are worth it!