To forgive, or not to forgive someone who has hurt us so badly? For me I have often put off thinking about that as “I didn’t want to go there”. It is way too hard to overcome.
When Scott, one of our oh-so-loved children, was murdered it wasn’t just Scott who was a victim, it was all the people his life touched, and the ripple effect it had on all of us. Also came the betrayal of our trust with our ex son-in-law and his subsequent prison sentence. It was way too big to get over. We ached for our six grandchildren who were without their fathers. So in the past I have shelved the idea of forgiveness.
Often we all have some very big hurts that have been done to us. So I am not alone in this quandary. It is like seeing a huge rocky mountain in front of me that looks way to steep and dangerous to climb. I also think we don’t have to forgive too soon.
I am now seeing it as a process, like grieving. The first hurdle is to choose to forgive. Even if our feelings don’t match up. I grit my teeth as I choose this path. But I want to and need to for my health and well-being, let alone for those around me. My life cannot be filled with much needed love to give out if I don’t follow this forgiveness path. Hurt and un-forgiveness grows like a cancer and spreads into bitterness and anger and I do not want any of that. Love for ourselves and others, and hate for someone who has wronged us, cannot live side by side. One will dominate our thoughts and what we say. This is where our choice comes in.
The question I often think about is, “do we arrive at a place of forgiveness?” I’m not sure about that. I haven’t experienced that yet. When we celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and special events, the feelings of anger and loss return. My revengeful thoughts threaten to overtake me. But I cannot stay there. Instead it is like turning away from something we abhor and walk away.
I also acknowledge that I need help to forgive. I know I need God’s grace and power to forgive. I can’t do it without that. (Some would call it help from a higher power). I believe the hurt we feel has to be resolved first. It takes a while. Sometimes we need a counsellor to help. I can’t imagine climbing that particular mountain on my own. Often it can feel like one step forward and five back.
Forgiveness is part of a process of letting go, bit by bit, issue by issue. It cannot be dependent on whether we are asked for forgiveness either, as that may be never forthcoming for one reason or another. If we wait for our feelings to come before we forgive it won’t happen. It is an act of a decision made. It is our choice.