I hate being lied to, don’t you? I hate believing something is true all my life and then suddenly being confronted with information that makes me realize I was actually believing a LIE all those years. It makes me angry and distrustful for a while. Who can you really trust?
I used to believe that I had to wait until certain conditions were met before I could forgive. For example, why should I forgive if the other person doesn’t say he/she is sorry? Why should I forgive anybody for anything? They are the ones who hurt me – they deserve to suffer, right? I have the right to stay angry and upset for as long as I want to – no one should tell me to forgive. They don’t deserve it!
Meaning Of Forgiveness
Then one day, I discovered the biggest LIE about forgiveness. I thought forgiveness was a feeling – I would forgive when I felt like forgiving. But guess what? Forgiveness is a CHOICE, not a feeling. Wow – who knew? That was a completely new way of looking at relationships. I could actually CHOOSE to let go of the anger and grudge I was holding against the other person by an act of my will. I didn’t have to wait for my feelings to ‘feel like’ doing it.
That was HUGE! I realized that my anger and bitterness were actually hurting me more than the other person. They had no clue that I was rehearsing the hurtful situation over and over in my mind late at night (and I couldn’t sleep). It made me angry at night and then it made me grumpy during the day. It affected my other relationships too – I was expecting people to hurt me and I was looking for a fight!
When I discovered the biggest lie about forgiveness, I realized, I could suddenly change my emotional experience of life. I could CHOOSE to let the anger and bitterness go as an act of my will. I was no longer a prisoner of what someone else had done to me! It was not easy the first time – it felt so unfamiliar. But once I did it, I was literally shocked by how much better I felt. So I did it again and again and again. I became a forgiveness junkie! Every single time I let something go from my past, I felt lighter and happier.
A few weeks later a co-worker remarked that I seemed to be smiling more. I knew I had more peace – I didn’t realize other people could see the changes in me too. I started learning to forgive at the end of each day – I slept so much better! Sleeping better seemed to give me more patience with people so I wasn’t irritated as easily. Practicing forgiveness gave me strength to trust again and my relationships got a lot more healthy.
So what was that LIE I believed? That forgiveness is a feeling – that I had to wait to ‘feel forgiving’ before I could forgive. The truth is that forgiveness is a CHOICE.
Here’s What I Did:
- I gave myself permission to let go of the anger and bitterness.
I didn’t have to wait for anyone to apologize in order to get rid of the bad feelings. I could do it myself.
- I tried to learn from the situation.
I asked myself, “How did I contribute to the problem?” and “Why did that make me so upset?” I often wrote my answers in my journal so that I could learn from my mistakes. I wasn’t completely innocent in the conflict. I played a part and I needed to learn from that.
- I chose to let it go – to forgive.
I found, it worked best to say it out loud when I was alone. I would acknowledge the pain and the one responsible and then forgive. For example, I would say, “I was really angry when you let me down. I trusted you and you betrayed my trust. But I’m not going to be a prisoner to the pain you caused me – I’m letting this go right now! I forgive you.”
I hope, you will try it. Your heart will thank you. I am certainly happy that I chose to forgive so I could be free of the prison of my anger and hurt. I sleep so much better, I have more peace than I thought was possible and my relationships are so much healthier. Forgiveness is a very powerful choice to make.