Forgiveness…this is a very difficult concept for a many of us. I have always thought of myself as a forgiving person. I’ve tried not to hold grudges, but it isn’t always easy to let go and move forward. It can be one of the hardest things that a person can do. It takes a lot of courage and strength to forgive those that have hurt us. Psychologists say that it can lead to a healthier lifestyle. There is one exception and that is sexual abuse. Those sexually assaulted often feel a sense of freedom knowing that they do not have to forgive their abuser.
There is a lot written on forgiveness in the Bible as well. One particular verse that has stuck out in my mind is Mark 11:25 – “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” This is pretty serious. If you don’t forgive others, how can God forgive you?
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve experienced a bit of abuse. I believe I was most affected by the emotional abuse from my step-father starting at a very early age. It had a long lasting affect on the way I felt about myself and how I felt I deserved nothing better. Over the past couple of years I’ve tried to tolerate him and move forward in our relationship when I visit my mom (for my mom). I thought I had forgiven him for what I went through as a child. It wasn’t until about 3 weeks ago that I realized I hadn’t. It took me actually saying the words out loud and really meaning them. Of course, I only said them to myself though. I had heard from my mother that he was in the hospital with heart related issues…again. He has been in and out of the hospital for the past several years and his health is slowly deteriorating. When he’s had issues in the past I always said that was karma paying him back for all the meanness that was inside him and for everything he put me through. Surprisingly this time I didn’t think that. I could tell my mother was very worried about him and it was serious. So instead of thinking he was getting what he deserved, I prayed for him and while I was doing that I felt myself lighten and in the middle of my prayer I used those powerful words and said “I forgive him!” It really did feel like a weight had lifted off my shoulders. It felt great! I felt liberated. I no longer had that resentment towards him that I always did when my mom mentioned his name. It’s been over 30 years since the abuse started and honestly, it still exists to a bit when I visit, but it doesn’t phase me anymore like it used to. I am finally able to put that chapter of my life behind me and move forward without that vengeance and resentment in my heart.
Everything you read about forgiveness says that it will free you, it is more for the victim than it is for the abuser, it will make you feel better and can even improve your health. I believe that now. I have yet to say the words to my step-father, but I plan to write him a letter and let him know so that I can be totally free of it.
Is there someone or something you need to forgive? If so, try it…see how it can transform you.