Has anyone ever told you to “move on” or “get over it.” I am learning, after a few years of dealing with unforgiveness in my life, that you never really get over the past. And much to my relief, it’s OK!
The act of forgiveness is a process and not just a one-time act. It has been helpful for me to understand that we need to develop the capacity to forgive. It is a skill we must learn and practice every day.
We each have our own unique story of anger and hurt, but there are two components to forgiveness:
- Step 1: Grieving what was and what could have been.
- Step 2: Letting go – of the suffering
Most think that a big part of forgiveness is about forgetting the incident or person that brought so much hurt and anger.
But denying our past, without first acknowledging it, does not make it easier to forgive. Several experts on forgiveness talk about the importance of grieving over what happened and what could have been. We need to feel the sadness, anger and hurt of the act that wounded us so deeply.
We shouldn’t play it down by telling ourselves it wasn’t really that bad, because it was. Until we have fully acknowledged the past we are not in a position to forgive.
Then once we have taken the time to grieve we are in a place to move forward. Fully acknowledging the past and the feelings attached to it, acts as a springboard allowing us to move into the present and to create a better life for ourselves.
The second step involves letting go or forgiving those who hurt you. Some believe Saint Augustine originated this profound statement on unforgiveness:
“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Anger and resentment poison our mind and thought processes and while we may try to punish others by not forgiving them, all we do is hurt ourselves.
Are there incidents from the past that you seem to relive from time to time, sparked by things you are doing? As these thoughts loop through your mind again and again, they take on a life of their own and become a stronghold. They lock us into the past.
If that is happening to you, then you need to forgive.
Forgiveness is about releasing ourselves from the suffering of our past. It springboards us into a better future and personal freedom.
Forgiveness is a choice. You make up your mind to forgive those who hurt you. Learn to recognize the triggers that signal its lurking in your heart and when it surfaces, forgive those who hurt you. You may need to go through this process several times until it’s finally dealt with.
Forgiveness is a discipline that we must practice everyday until we become skilled at it.
It’s like sitting in the back of a motorboat and watching the wake of the past falling behind as you forge forward into the future and release yourself from your past.
“Get ride of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ in God forgave.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)