forgiveness smedes“I’ll never forgive you.” Said in the heat of the moment it can feel like you really mean it. You’ve been hurt. The pain is unbearable. You’ll never forget and you’ll never forgive. End of story.

Except it’s not. Not wanting to forgive—or not being able to—brings further anguish. It doesn’t diminish over time like memories can. It can filter into your soul, filling you with bitterness and intolerance. Thoughts of revenge will trap you in the very past that you despise and keep your heart like stone. Just as healing is a process that occurs over time, so too is forgiveness. Whatever your situation, however deep your pain, forgiveness is essential to your healing.

In my own life, one of the main barriers preventing my recovery was not being able to forgive. Until I could, I was going to continue holding onto the anger and pain. I was going to continue looking for something to numb me from reality. And I was going to carry on thinking that life owed me. It didn’t.

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom

For me the greatest healing came from forgiving the mother who had abandoned me and the father who had abused me. It was a journey over many years requiring patience, determination and courage. Forgiving isn’t a transient emotion, it’s a decision that continues over time. It was worth it. My reward was a life free from the horrors of my past and the liberty to enjoy each day with a clear mind and an open heart.

Of course there have been many other instances I been let down.  Recently, where self-destructive choices made by someone I loved led to an extremely challenging time, I still resolved to make my peace. Often not an easy path, it was always the right way to bring meaning and closure.

Forgiveness is not a form of acceptance or surrender. It is a battle cry. Another person’s actions have already stolen enough from me and I am refusing to let them take any more. Even if there is no recognition of wrong-doing or apology, by forgiving I am taking control of a situation over which I had none.

Have you ever replayed an event over and over in your mind?  Have you driven yourself half crazy doing it? Has thinking it left you feeling depressed, frustrated and emotionally exhausted? You need to let it go.

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King.

Remember that forgiveness is not to be confused with being a doormat or allowing the offender to ‘get away with it’. Neither does it mean you should not express your grief and upset. It means that you are willing to move beyond your rawness and vulnerability. And you are willing to let go of the negativity and animosity that hold you emotionally hostage.

Forgiveness is the key to freedom. It will release you to live the life as the person you were meant to be. Not the person held captive by the actions and words of someone else.

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

Reclaiming your spirit of compassion will release your body, mind and soul.

That’s the freedom of forgiveness.

forgive hurt healerIn my book HOW TO HEAL A BROKEN HEART – Let go of pain and learn to love again, you can find more on forgiveness, letting go and moving from a position of pain to a place of peace. An exercise I suggest is to write a letter of forgiveness. Give it a try and let me know how it helped.

Healing Hurt: A letter of forgiveness – It takes time to overcome an offense. Allow your heart to soften by writing a letter of forgiveness to the person who has offended you. Don’t send it; simply write it and read it back to yourself. Your head may give you plenty of reasons not to forgive, but remember—this is about you, not them. You’re letting go of bitterness and pain. You’re embracing forgiveness and peace.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please do help my work by purchasing a copy of HOW TO HEAL A BROKEN HEART: Let go of pain and learn to love again. Available on Amazon. Thank you!