At the beginning of each year, God never fails to place it on my heart a theme that will dominate my entire year.
It was crystal clear to me that 2020's theme was forgiveness.
Up until this year, I had never viewed myself as an unforgiving person.
I understand now that I would only forgive if my feelings were acknowledged.
I am big on perspective and I have always found it important to see both sides of a situation. My forgiveness had always been contingent on externals.
The problem with contingent forgiveness is that it is left in the hands of someone else; It is based on something or someone outside of yourself.
What if you are never acknowledged? Then what?
I did some brief research on the topic of forgiveness to identify reasons why people commonly find it difficult to forgive. Here is a bit of what I found:
"Forgiveness is difficult in part because evolution has endowed us with the psychological motivation to avoid being exploited by others, and one of the easiest ways to prevent exploitation is to hit back or simply avoid the exploiter." Anthony C. Lopez
Forgiving them means giving permission to keep doing it.
They don’t deserve to be forgiven!
Revenge is sweet!
The biggest misconception that I've personally held on to for so long regarding forgiveness is that it is equivalent to pushing your feelings to the side. If you know me, then you know I am the queen of harboring my feelings and emotions.
I bottle just about everything up typically for these reasons:
1.) I hate impulsively reacting to things.
2.) I value other people's feelings above my own.
3.) I do not like conflict.
4.) I tend to equate concealing my emotions as having control/power in a situation.
Reason #4 probably should have been the first reason on the list because it hits home more than the others for me.
Forgiveness and power are connected.
Unforgiveness is essentially giving power to a situation. You may think that the act of holding on to what hurt you gives you control and power. When in reality, unforgiveness actually overpowers you. It relinquishes your power and gives it to the situation.
Forgiveness, however, grants you power over the situation.
Whole time, I've been on the wrong side of power.
As obvious as it may seem, I never realized that years and years of bottled up emotions and feelings was actually the springboard to unforgiveness and resentment.
No cap, (I've always wanted to use this phrase lol) I thought I was doing the people around me and even myself a favor.
I actually wrote a list of all the situations that require some level of forgiveness in my life. I have some major things on the list, but a few petty situations made it there too lol.
I still struggle with forgiveness, but I am so aware of it now.
Thank God for awareness.
I truly believe that you can only fix something when you are aware of what needs to be fixed in the first place. It opens your mind to the right tools needed to properly navigate the situation.
It gives you the perfect aim.
Through prayer, venting, listening to countless sermons, reading devotionals, and having a few of those necessary ugly cries, I have learned (and am still learning) quite a bit about forgiveness:
Forgiveness is personal.
Forgiveness does not happen overnight.
Forgiveness is a process.
In order to truly forgive others, you have to first learn to forgive yourself.
You owe it to yourself to be the one to acknowledge your own feelings, but to release the power they hold over your life.
Unforgiveness is high key a stronghold.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” — Louis B. Smedes