“To forgive is to set a prisoner free & discover that the prisoner was you.” ~Lewis B. Smedes
Sometimes life presents us with a theme. Lately, “forgiveness” keeps popping up – in my own life and in many of those around me. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do. It’s very difficult not to hold on to the hurt that we feel someone bestowed upon us. There is never a time when abuse or mistreatment by another is acceptable, and it’s normal to feel victimized in little or big ways, depending upon the situation. No one is ever worthy of negative thoughts, words, and actions. When we hurt others, it’s because we’re hurting in some way that we haven’t dealt with.
Forgiveness is not a validation of the other person’s hurtful actions; the forgiveness is for us – a way of releasing the pain that was caused, allowing us to sever our attachment to that hurt and anger and move on. It does not justify the harm done.
Holding on to the hurt keeps us in the place of feeling victimized. If we’re no longer in that hurtful situation, then we found the strength to move beyond it and are not a victim. We may have felt victimized at one point, but we don’t need to stay in that mindset and accept that place anymore. Forgiveness is the tool to help us release what is no longer ours to carry. That hurt wasn’t ours in the first place. Someone else was hurting, and they passed that on to us through their words and actions.
Holding on to pain and un-forgiveness is heavy. It weighs us down, and keeps us from moving forward in joy. Little things will keep cropping up in our lives to remind us of that situation, bringing up the pain again until we find a way to let go of it. We have to fully process our emotions from the situation, and that can be hard to face. Healing begins with forgiveness, both of ourselves and the others who hurt us. And we often need the loving attention of a close friend or relative or a professional to help us through it. Some situations involved deep hurt and we need help to get out of the hole.
Forgiving ourselves for being in the harmful situation is a powerful step forward in healing our past. Once we do this, we can recognize that the other person was hurting as well, which is why the pain was passed on to us in the first place. Forgiveness allows us to step back and look at the situation with “detached” eyes. From there, we can come to a more centered, loving place within ourselves, and release the burden that is not ours to carry.
It seems like we unknowingly accept the hurt from others in order to help them lighten their own pain. But we really can’t carry that burden for another person. That’s not ours to work through. But we can forgive those who hurt us. When we choose to act from a place of forgiveness, love pours through and can help stop, or at least slow, a cycle of pain. Returning hurt does not help end the cycle, and holding onto the pain doesn’t either. It keeps you both there. To forgive, even if you can only forgive just yourself for your involvement, releases you both and allows the possibility of healing to begin. The cycle has a chance to end.
If there’s a need for forgiveness in your life, I wish you the courage and compassion to fully release what weighs you down and keeps you from being your joyful self. May you be surrounded with Love and Light as you do this difficult task, and may your life flow beautifully and easily forward…