“Every one says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” ~ C.S.Lewis
Last time we looked at what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. Today we will look at how to forgive. And just like it says in the title, to forgive can be a very difficult thing to do.
When I was in elementary school we used to play a game called “dodge ball.” Remember that? We would stand in a large circle, and one of us would go to the center of the circle. We had a ball, kind of like a basketball only a lot softer. The goal was for those forming the circle to try to hit the person in the center and the person in the center to dodge that ball. Who ever finally hit the “dodger” took his or her turn in the center.
To forgive is a lot like that game. The offense is the ball. Life circles us and situations throw the offense at us. We are wise to dodge it, but too many times it knocks us flat. Or we might catch it and hold it tight, nursing the hurt. We may turn it over and over rehearsing the story in our head, or to others. But the true object of the game is to dodge it. And should we catch it, to reverse it—throw it away from us.
For most of us, forgiveness takes time. But if we will practice the following steps we will succeed:
Decide to forgive. Decide to let go of that offense. We must not listen to our emotions. They keep a death-grip on our hurt because at first it doesn’t always feel good to forgive.
- Move forward. Not forgiving holds us in a state of inertia. Believe the truth. We did not deserve to be hurt in such a way. But now is the time to close the door on the past and move on to our future.
- Focus on how this has made us stronger, wiser, better people, and more compassionate people to others in similar situations. Let us think about ways we can help others?
- Redefine ourselves. We must quit being “the victim.” Let’s no longer allow the offending person or situation continue to have power or control over us.
Finally, we must be patience with ourselves. Sometimes in a weak moment we might forget to dodge and the offense will land in our hands. When that happens, we mustn’t nurse it, or rehearse the stories. We must reverse it. Throw it away. Life will get tired of playing that game and we will emerge the victors!