When I was a child, my parents would always tell me that I was very forgiving and I never held grudges, but the truth is, I was just sneaky.
I would seemingly let things go, pretend everything was just fine, only to bring them back at the perfect moment and “defeat” the other person. It took me a long time to learn about forgiveness and what it really means. Actually I’m still learning about it every day, I’m getting better at letting go and forgiving others—but most importantly forgiving myself.
Here are a few truths I’m still learning on my journey towards forgiveness:
1. Forgiveness is not a favor.
For the longest time I thought forgiveness is about doing the other person a favor. If they make a mistake and apologize, then out of the kindness of my heart I decide to forgive them.
I lived with un-forgiveness in my heart and it changed the way I view life, changed or even destroyed relationships, and belittled the amazing, wonderful things that I had in my life, but couldn’t see. The only person I was doing a favor for was myself, by forgiving and letting go of the burden.
2. Forgiveness is not about the other person.
We don’t actually forgive the other person, we forgive ourselves for believing too much, for letting ourselves be fooled or deceived. That’s why it’s so hard. It’s not just about the other person betraying us—it’s about our own heart and intuition not catching on to it fast enough.
3. Un-forgiveness is about control.
It may not seem like it on the surface, but as long as we are unwilling to forgive, we hold the other person on the hook as if they owe us. We hold a spell over them and we make use of it every time we want them to do or not do something in the present or future.
4. Forgiving is not about payback.
If you forgive someone, you can’t still hold them to what they did wrong and expect them to make up for it at every step. That’s not forgiveness! Forgiveness is either done with all your heart or not done at all.
5. There’s not judgment in forgiveness.
Deciding to forgive someone might be easy at times and really hard at other times and we can never predict how it will be until we get to that moment when we’re trying to figure things out.
One thing that I know for sure is that as long as we’re still judging the other person or ourselves, forgiveness will not come. Forgiveness only comes when all the judgments are put aside, when we drop down the defensive guard and accept that we’ve been wronged and it’s time to end the pain.
6. I don’t have to understand to forgive.
It took me a long time to understand this. I remember thinking that I have to have all the facts, that I need every last detail of the story, and most importantly I need to understand what happened, before I could ever begin to talk think about forgiveness.
The truth is most of the time, I will never understand why people decide to do certain things, or why they react in a certain way—sometimes I don’t understand why I react in certain way. It all goes back to our intricate human side.
Sometimes we do things without thinking.
Sometimes we hurt people for no reason.
It’s not about understanding why we did it—it’s about knowing that we never want to do that again.
7. It’s okay to forgive and stay but it’s also okay to forgive and go.
I thought forgiving someone also means taking them back into my life, allowing them to come back as if nothing happened, to start anew, and leave all the hurt behind. But once again, forgiveness is not about the other person, forgiveness is about us.
We can forgive and welcome someone back into our lives, but we can also forgive and decide to move on. We’re still forgiving, we’re not holding any grudges, but we’re also accepting that that person no longer has a place in our lives.
I’m not an expert in forgiveness, I don’t think any of us are, I think we are all human, we make mistakes, we wrong people and other people wrong us.
But at the end of it, we have a choice to either love with all our heart, forgive and make a decision about whether we want that person in our lives or not, or we can hold on to un-forgiveness until it completely destroys us.
Maybe it’s time we all took a step back and realize what’s more important. Is it holding on to grudges or it is having a happy and compassionate life?
As for for me, I choose forgiveness.
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Apprentice Editor: Jess Sheppard / Editor: Renée Picard