I’M FINISHED WITH IT!

You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, “I forgive. I’m finished with it.” ~ Maya Angelou

The reason I love this quote is because it both embodies what love truly is and the real benefactor from forgiveness.

Ms. Angelou got it right. Love isn’t sentimentality or mushy feelings. It is respecting, valuing, and honoring. It is doing the right thing even if it is hard or goes unnoticed.

Dovetail that with forgiveness. I used to think forgiveness was to benefit the offender. This understanding of forgiveness made it hard  for me to forgive because I didn’t feel that person deserved to be forgiven. I felt like I was giving that person a pass. It was the same to me as saying, “What you did was okay, you are not to blame.”

However, now I realize forgiveness is for me. It is for me to be free. I needed to respect, value, and honor, myself! And I couldn’t do that while holding a grudge, wanting justice, and wanting that person to suffer as I had. Just as Maya Angelou said, I had to say, I forgive. I’m letting it go from myself. I’M FINISHED WITH IT! And I did.

That said, for a couple of years the person and the offense replayed in my mind and I had to remind myself, I’m finished with it. After a while, it no longer played in my mind.

I’m free! DSC_0025-9

FINDING FREEDOM IN FORGIVING

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”~ Lewis B Smedes

 As a child, I always heard the phrase, “Forgive and Forget.” As an adult, I learned that forgetting is physically impossible. Our brains are not designed to forget. So what do we do? Live in the prison of our bitterness and anger? Draw others into our prison so they too can suffer?

No. Even though our human design makes it impossible to forget, forgiveness is possible. It involves our Mind – how we think about the offense, our Will – the choice we make, and our Emotion – controlling our reaction.

Most of us have been offended, cheated, treated unfairly, rejected, abandoned. Some of us have been heinously abused and feel the right to hold our attacker in un-forgiveness and hate.

For the next few posts we will explore forgiveness. Today I want to say what it is and what it is not.

Forgiveness is releasing the offense. Holding on to anger and bitterness is like squeezing a fist full of stinging nettles. It hurts and yet we hang on. We look at our hand and cry because it hurts and we hate it, but still we refuse to open our hand and throw them from us. But in order to heal, we must. Even after we throw the offenses (nettles) away, our hand still has wounds, it still bleeds, but the process of healing can now begin.

Forgiveness is not saying the offense was justified! If someone has hurt you, to forgive the person is not giving him or her a pass. By forgiving we are not admitting that person had the right to hurt us. We are not saying it was okay.

To release an offense is to release ourselves from that person, from our own personal prison, and to grow. It will give us perspective and empower us to help others.

Are you holding onto stinging nettles? Will you let today be the beginning of your healing?