We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
Martin Luther King Jr’s powerful quote explains that without forgiveness, we take away our power to love others.
Still, there is a part of us that doesn’t want to let those who hurt us off the hook because we think that we will be taken advantage of again.
We rationalize it by saying, “If only they could feel my pain or know how much they hurt me.”
The truth is that the main barrier that makes it so difficult to forgive is fear, fear of vulnerability, fear of losing control and fear of losing our power.
The problem with this type of thinking is its exactly the opposite of what Martin Luther King Jr. was talking about.
Forgiveness empowers us, its the first step in liberating ourselves from the painful past, and it drives us to new beginnings.
Maybe that is why Jesus focused so much of his ministry on telling us to love and forgive others.
According to Gary Howell, “The word “Forgive” appears 42 times in the Old Testament and 33 times in the New Testament. The word “Forgiven” appears 17 times in the Old Testament and 28 times in the New Testament. And the word “Forgiving” appears 6 times in the Old Testament and 1 time in the New.”
Here is brief guide to what forgiveness is and isn’t.
1) Forgiveness is wanting the very best for that person despite the things they may have done to you.
2) Forgiveness is a process that often requires you to forgive that person daily because your feelings or thoughts might stimulate old memories.
3) Forgiveness is a choice, something within you, something that requires your effort.
1) Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. Your feelings associated with a particular wrongdoing may fluctuate which is why forgiveness is really a decision to say, “Despite how I feel about this person today I’m going to choose to forgive them for any wrongdoings in the past.”
2) Forgiveness isn’t where you wait for the person to apologize or say I’m sorry. The fact is, they may never apologize and as long as your forgiveness is predicated upon a particular person or situation, you will be enslaved to it.
3) Forgiveness isn’t easy. Lets face it, forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do. Understand though that its hypocritical to say, “I’ll let Jesus forgive my sins but I won’t forgive the sins of others that have hurt me (Matthew 6:14-15).”
Forgiveness is an important part in the healing process and newer studies are providing evidence to suggest that.
According to the Center of Healthcare Evaluation, studies on forgiveness since 2000 have been linked to improved physiological factors such as improved blood pressure and cortisol regulation which is the hormone involved in stress (Harris and Thoreson, 2005).
The American Medial Student Association reports that a 2001 study revealed that measures on the stress response (blood pressure, heart rate) were reduced when participants continually focused on forgiving thoughts.
They also found a reduction in anger, anxiety, depression, grief, and vulnerability to substance abuse.
Since all of these factors negatively impact our health, it makes sense than that the act of forgiving removes these factors and allows us to begin the healing process.
Today I hope that you are empowered by this article to finally free yourself from the hurtful things that people have done to you. Forgiveness truly is a liberating experience that will allow you to heal and finally turn the page to a new you.
What has been the most difficult barrier for you to forgive those who hurt you?