Forgiveness is a tough one

From   |  September 25, 2013
In Life Scoop

When the biggest betrayal, hurt and heartbreak came my way, within an hour I told the perpetrator, "I forgive you." And I wasn't lying. I truly, truly wanted to forgive him. Except I had never, until that point, had to unpack the junk that comes with deep, life-changing betrayal and the hope for forgiveness. So in a sense, I lied. But I know my heart and I did want to forgive him. Or maybe what I was really saying is I know I can forgive you, in time. 

You see I believe in forgiveness. I have believed for years that if you hold a grudge or hold "Un-forgiveness" toward another person, it is you that suffers. Oh sure the relationship between the two of you will suffer, too. But the ultimate fact is the person who holds the grudge, is the one who is ultimately caught in the prison of the past: Trapped in what was, what might have been and the pain.

I would often preach this thought to people in my life, trying to encourage them to let go, move on, forgive, release the past....on and on and on. I felt as if the minor offenses that I had suffered through life were examples of the way forgiveness works in a healthy way.

Then I had to walk the horrible, painful, game-changing path of choosing to forgive. I watched as not only my life changed forever, but the lives of my children did too. And because I knew from personal experience what it felt like for my parents to divorce, I immediately poured all the un-forgiving thoughts and resentment I un-knowingly harbored about my own parents divorce and assumed they felt the same way. Which in turned fired me up even more about the betrayal of not only my marriage vows, but my whole family dynamic.

How incredibly unfair of me. I was not going to be able to protect them in this situation. I couldn't help but worry about them, but I was not going to have answers for them. I didn't know the answers myself. But hence the layers of the process of forgiveness. It's a difficult one, for sure. And one that only happens one small step at a time.

I had one therapist tell me my wanting to forgive was a huge step toward actually doing it. But the road is long. And life keeps happening, so there's always twists and turns that bring up unforeseen areas where forgiveness needs to happen, even with the same old hurt. I think I can safely say, now a few years down the road, I'm only in the "unforgive-ness" prison occasionally. And because I like it so much "outside" I am quicker than ever to see and take care of layers where resentment, anger, hurt and pain seep back in. It's been a journey of learning about myself and others that I would have never signed up for. But having gone through it, I think I am better for the experience. If not better than definitely deeper and richer.

Have you struggled with the difficult road of forgiveness? I'd love to hear your thoughts....

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