“Forgiveness is Tofu of the soul, a healthy alternative to the red meat of anger and vengeance.”----Anonymous
Whenever the word forgiveness is used or required from us it could sound like a death sentence or an impossible task that can never be accomplished. Many situations have caused us to be offended, and they are either the government, our goals or the people closest to us. The offenses that hurt us the most are from the people closest to us. Why? Because we trusted them to have our backs or speak up for us when bullied or just being there when we need them the most. We have felt the sting of betrayal in one way or the other.
Choosing the path of forgiveness can be messy especially when we don't even know what it means to forgiven and the steps towards to take. Some of us have been taught or have seen a wrong model of what forgiveness looks like or read the filtered version of what forgiveness means.
What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is refusing to hold on to the past, or an expectation of what a person or thing was supposed to be. Recently, I had a clash with a friend. I was upset and shaky as I spoke to him. I am somewhat of a perfectionist and I like to see things done right. This particular friend hardly takes anything seriously not even his life. We were given a task as a team of content creators but instead, he chooses to complain, clings to his phone during our round table discussions and tries to distract other members of the team. Because I know we have a goal I would go hard on him to be serious with the task at hand but all to no avail. Sometimes, I know I could be too hard on him because I believe he has a lot of potentials which he takes for granted. We got into an argument, and he said I hated him because every other person in the group seems to say little or nothing to him.
Through hindsight, I have discovered that the reason we often clash is that had an idea in my head about how he is supposed to live his life or behave, and I felt I had the tools to change him if he could only listen. Such an expectation is unrealistic especially when the person doesn't see any need to change their behavior. So you see my friend I was offended and I allowed the emotion to control me and my peace of mind. An offense can either be picked up or put on you. In my case, I picked up the offense.
An Offense is Either Picked Up or Put On
Let's deal with the fundamentals. How does been unforgiven even start? First, it starts with been offended by everything. Blowing things out of proportion or just choosing to stay hurt. An offense is like a puff of bad air that we didn't turn away from instead we inhaled it. You are offended because you didn't get to have the graduation party or prom of your dream. You picked up an offense from the president's speech, you're offended by your sibling refusal to do the right thing or getting mad at the number of followers you haven't gotten on social media. How about getting offended by those friends who refused to send birthday wishes to you on Instagram. The other kind of offenses are those put on us through parent divorcing, rape, verbal or emotional abuse we've had endure that wasn't even our fault.
Steps to Forgiveness
Examine the situation:
There are some issues we blow out of proportion that doesn't even need the world's attention. Trivia issues like what was listed above are things that are easy to let go. Look closely at the issue before you get your feelings hurt. Issues like being lied against by a friend or classmate that led to a suspension at school or work, molestation, rape, abandonment issues, etc. This kind of situation leaves scars in our hearts.
Don't deny your hurt:
Don't try to brush over an issue like it never happened. A lady was once molested by her father when she was five years old. She never talked about it. Many years later when she had her daughter, her father molested her little girl too. If she had spoken up or not underestimate her dad she would have been able to prevent her daughter. Just because someone says they are sorry doesn't mean they've changed. You might have to watch from a distance or speak with an authority figure or someone who would see things objectively and tell if such a person has changed. This process cannot be rushed. Remember, the gravity of the situation.
Grief about what has been lost because every painful offense involves a loss of some kind. This could be time, trust or your emotional investment.
Place the blame appropriately:
Don't blame yourself for your parent separation when you were just five years old because you didn't even know what divorce was. That was your parent's decision, not yours. But if you took something that wasn't yours, don't blame the owner for leaving it around it was your responsibility not to touch it anyway.
What lesson is there to be learnt:
It's okay to be angry about what has happened but it shouldn't turn into a rage. Find out what lessons they are to be learnt to pick up from that situation. Don't get stuck in anger because it can control your life from inside out.
Have a Community don't isolate in shame:
Please walk through the path of forgiveness with someone who sees things objectively. It could be a professional counselor or a trusted person. Find someone who would be willing to tell you when it's time to quit sitting on your feelings forever.
Choosing forgiveness doesn't mean you condone what has happened to you but you are going to be careful not to allow such a situation to happen again. Sometimes it might require creating a boundary until you are in the right frame of mind. Also, choosing forgiveness means you are not going to bring up the issue against the person or lay it to their charge.
Even they may hurt you again for instance you are not going to bring up their previous error. Whether they apologize or not. If you wish to reconcile, it is your choice. If you think that individual is a changed person and you are open to the option why not do it.
The Benefits of forgiveness
1. It gives peace of mind and you don't have to always dream about them.
2. Your health is not at risk to cancer or high blood pressure because of stress.
3. You become wiser and more mature with your dealings with people.