All of us have been hurt before. All of us have experienced being let down and disappointed. We have all had someone we love betray us, some of us in major ways and some of us in smaller ways, but we have all been through the experience of being hurt by someone we care about.
On the flip side of that I am quite confident that all of us have also played the hurting and disappointing and betraying role at some point in our lives. I have yet to meet a perfect human being during my life, so I have no problem stating that we have all made mistakes.
So how do we handle it when someone hurts us? Are we the person who holds onto that hurt and becomes bitter and resentful? Or are we the person who can forgive and move on? While you are considering the answer to that question let me have you step back and think about a few things:
Have you ever seen someone who holds on to a hurt and refuses to let it go? It is one of the saddest things to observe because you can literally witness a person move slowly down a dark hole of anger and bitterness as more time goes on where they couldn’t just let it go. They are angry and hurt and all they can focus on is themselves and how wronged they have been. All they want is for the other person to pay for hurting them, or for the other person to be hurt just as badly, as if that will somehow help to rectify the wrong done to them.
You have to stop and ask yourself, who is really hurt worse here? The person who committed the wrong act? Or the person who can’t forgive them and let it go?
It is so easy for people to get caught up in the “that person wronged me and they haven’t fixed it so I don’t have to forgive them” or the “they haven’t said sorry to me so I don’t have to get over it” syndrome. But when we get caught up in that mentality we are forgetting the most important thing of all, which is that we need to forgive people for OUR OWN SAKE! Not for the other person’s sake. It is us that needs the ability to forgive and let go so that we don’t get trapped into that downward spiral of bitterness and anger that we will carry around every day of our lives until we come to the point that we are able to forgive and let go. When we are in that state of holding on to our anger we end up hurting every other healthy relationship around us because we are distracted and angry that pushes others away. It also causes us to miss out on all the good that happens around us because we are too busy wallowing in our own self-pity.
“Refusing to forgive is like taking poison and hoping the other person will die.” -unknown
Here are the facts: People are going to disappoint you. People are going to make mistakes. People are going hurt you. People are going to do dumb things. Why? Because they are human and we all make mistakes. Hopefully we don’t make horrible mistakes that are hard to fix, but inevitably we are all going to make mistakes and there will be times when all of us will be asking someone else for forgiveness, hoping they will be kind enough to grant it to us.
I have been through experiences in my own life where I have been hurt deeply. By friends, by family, by coworkers, by a loved one. I have been through times in my life where I was the person to hold on to those hurts and have them fester inside, and I have been through times where I have made the choice to forgive those hurts and move forward with truly letting them go. There should be no surprise to hear that the lesson I learned was that I am a happier and stronger person when I have the ability to forgive and let go. Not only am I stronger and happier but I am also at peace and the ability to be at peace is a genuine blessing in life. I learned that letting go is for my benefit, not for the benefit of the other person. I also realized that forgiving didn’t mean I had to stay around the person that wronged me. You can forgive someone and be wise enough to steer clear of them in the future. That applies often times to situations where someone has been abused. They still need to forgive their abuser for what they have done to them so that they themselves can move forward in their own life, but they certainly don’t have to allow that abuser to be part of their life going forward. You can forgive someone without allowing them to be a part of your life. They are two different things. Forgiveness is about letting go of your anger or hurt caused by another person. It’s about deciding that you are not going to try and judge the other person because you don’t know everything that has gone on in their life to cause them to act the way they have acted and you don’t understand what their motivation or intention was because you are not inside of their head. It’s about realizing that it’s really up to God to judge that person, not you, and all you can control is how you will handle yourself. You have to truly let go of trying to do God’s job of judging them and worry more about how God will judge you for how you have behaved, cause that is the part that you can control.
Forgiving and letting go is one of the best ways to bring happiness and peace into your life. It builds character to learn how to truly let go. It will teach you compassion and empathy for others which will also give you more peace. Is it hard to do? Sometimes. But is it worth it to do? Always.
“Remember, heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven. And they forgive.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Today’s challenge is to consider anything you are holding onto in your life that you need to forgive and let go, and then choose to do that! Then enjoy the peace that comes into your life because you will have earned it!