We have all been forgiven, we have all forgiven - but what does forgiveness mean to you? Is it the same that someone else thinks it is?
CS Lewis said, "Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive."
God said - forgive 70x70 - ie... you should always forgive.
So just like CS Lewis says - we all love the idea of forgiveness and always want to be forgiven for our wrong doings... but the real question is... are we always forgiving others for their wrong doings toward us or others that we love?!
Forgiveness is a really hard topic and it drudges up the past and bad memories. Forgiveness is important for each of us because in order to remain whole and forgiven, we must first forgive others or possibly even ourselves.
There are many times in my life that shoot straight to the front of my mind when I think of forgiveness. When I think of how someone has forgiven me or I think about the times I have had to forgive someone else or even myself. It is a rough and rocky road, but I know that when I look at the days, weeks, months, or even years after that - all I see is growth and healing.
So - what does forgiveness mean to me?
Forgiveness is the act of letting go, healing, and moving forward. This means that you forgive someone else or yourself. You allow yourself to heal from it and then you move forward. Not holding grudges or holding an event/action over someone else's head or your own - this is what causes baggage and tears at your heart. Now, just because you have forgiven someone does not mean you have to forget how it affected you, your life, and those around you. Forgiveness doesn't mean that you have to sweep it under the rug and keep letting someone else bring you down or yourself be beaten! Forgiveness does not mean that you have to keep allowing that hurt to consume you.
So - If forgiving something/someone means that you need to make a phone call, a visit, or just write a letter and burn it - then that's what you should do.
I have written a few letters in my life. Letters that are written to someone that I cannot communicate with any longer, or that it is not safe to communicate with. I have made those phone calls and visits when necessary, but I also know how difficult it is.
There are times when I sit with pen in hand and just don't want to write those words. There are times when I sit in my car outside someone's house because I just don't want to take that first step and approach the situation. We all know this feeling and we all have been here.
Obviously if you have been reading my blog long enough or have read my book then you know that I have had many opportunities to forgive - and let me tell you that it is not easy and sometimes takes a lot of counseling or coaxing to make it happen. But I know that I cannot be forgiven or heal properly unless I forgive and let it go.
A little over ten years ago I was sexually assaulted. At the time I would have told you that I was ruined but I know better now. But it took me years to forgive him. I had to make peace with the situation and open myself up to the idea of forgiving someone that "ruined" me. I cannot even tell you how long it then also took for me to forgive myself. Not that any of this was my fault, but I felt guilty and I needed to forgive myself and rid my heart/mind of that guilt in order to heal and move forward. Now when I look back on those years and see that brokenness in my heart, I wonder how I made it from there to here. I know that forgiving him and myself allowed for that healing that brought me to a much better place. A much stronger place.
Around that same time I struggled with forgiving God - I know this is crazy and most people wont say this out loud, but I will. I blamed God for what happened to me for a while. I didn't understand why he would allow such a bad thing to happen to me and why he would allow such brokenness in my life. But I had to continually remind myself that sometimes bad things happen to good people. And - God gave us free will to act as we wish and he will not interfere with that. I cannot control other people's actions, and even when trying to control my own, sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you cross paths with someone who is up to no good. This affects you. You have to know and understand that this is not God's fault. It is not my fault. It is just a bad situation that needs time and healing in order to walk away whole.
For so long I longed to be whole. I waited and waited for healing to come. I waited for the weight of the world to drop off my shoulders. But I did not do anything to allow this to happen. All I did was sit and wait. Eventually I realized that healing only comes through forgiveness.
What do you need to heal? What/Who do you need to forgive? What does this look like?
I can guarantee that forgiveness will put you on the right path to healing and growth. I know that it has for me and when I see how much stronger I am I know that it was because I made that first step. I know that it was because I forgave.
Say what you need to say.... Just say it! Forgive or allow yourself to be forgiven. See where this takes you!