Lessons for Living       
Lesson Eleven: "Forgiveness"


"Who suffers when you don't forgive?"




At one time or another we have all been hurt in our relationships. Some hurts are minor such as personal slights or embarrassing moments. Other hurts are more profound as with acts of emotional or physical abuse.

In either case the reaction to the hurt is to sometimes say, "I will never forgive." Maybe you have made this statement. If you have then consider this question, "When you don’t forgive, who suffers?"

What happens when you don’t forgive? Often you will think about the hurt. Events of the day remind you. You might see the person on the street and remember what they did. Someone mentions their name and the hurt is rekindled. A song on the radio stirs the embers of the pain. You might work with the person or even live with them. Everyday you may be reminded of what happened.

Once reminded, you start thinking about how bad it was. How, unfair. How you didn’t deserve it. You are filled with anger and resentment, or sadness and loss. You say again, "I will never forgive."

At this point who is feeling bad? Who is miserable? The answer is "You!"

What is the other person doing? Most likely not busy thinking about you. They may not remember what happened or even know you were hurt. They may not care that you were hurt. They are feeling fine.

However, you keep thinking about, "How bad it was." Your lack of forgiveness is only hurting you. You end up miserable. What would happen if you were to forgive? Who would get better? Again the answer is "You!"

You must remember that, "Forgiveness is always for you." You don’t forgive for the other person. You forgive so you can get better. Forgiveness is a letting go. It is freeing of yourself.

If this is true, then why is forgiveness so difficult?

It is difficult because it can seem like "giving in" or being weak. We don’t want to be weak, so we don’t forgive. It can seem like an approval of what happened. We may worry that forgiving might be an invitation to be mistreated again. Also, not forgiving can give you sense of power and control through the holding a grudge.

Not forgiving and holding a resentment is like having a wound which you check everyday to see if it is healing. Everyday you open it up to look and sure enough it is not any better. To heal from a wound you must stop checking on it everyday. To heal from hurt you must stop reliving it everyday.

Remember, forgiveness frees you. It recaptures the energy that you were giving away in sadness, anger, and revenge. Forgiveness also empowers you. It puts you back in charge of you.

The forgiveness choice is, " Do you want to be bitter or better." Keep holding on to the pain and you will be bitter. Make the better choice. Learn to let go. Learn to be a forgiving person.

2000 Daniel H. Johnston. All Rights Reserved.

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