“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
– Lewis B. Smedes
No, it isn’t some trick and no it isn’t some life changing product. Its something that we all are capable of doing but often choose not to do or choose to hold on to until it begins to consume us.
What is it?
It sounds so plain. So plain and overstated that you may want to stop reading, but I urge you to read on.
I recently found an undelivered letter I had written to an ex-boyfriend of mine many, many years ago. Within that letter, there was pain, anger and definitely no forgiveness throughout. It was two months after our break up and I still could not let go of the anger I felt toward his actions. I told him that I knew I would be ok in life but that he most likely would not. I told him that he was a liar and a cheat and that his behavior as a person sucked. I held on to the anger for months. I had almost completely moved on from what had happened between the both of us but I still could not fully gain control of a small part of me that was not willing to actually forgive. I told myself I had forgiven him and carried on as if I had forgiven him, but I truly had not.
Years later I found myself occasionally thinking back, not of the fond memories but of the moment when I chose to be angry and chose to react with that anger. I started to question if I had forgiven and I realized that I hadn’t and that a not so feel good moment had actually managed to latch on to me for this long. I didn’t want to live my life that way. I had moved on in all other aspects of my life and was actually grateful for the fact that I did not stay in that relationship for longer. I told myself I needed to forgive myself first of all and then him.
Forgiveness is an interesting feeling and action. When we choose not to forgive we are not only not forgiving the other person but we are not forgiving ourselves for feeling the things we feel and in return we are not validating what we feel. In a way we are telling ourselves that we must still feel angry about the past, we are telling ourselves that we still need to hurt for the past, in a sense we are telling ourselves that if we forgive we are no longer holding that person to the wrong that they did. By doing this we continue to treat ourselves like victims and the longer we stay victims the longer it will take us to realize our greatness.
When we finally choose to forgive ourselves for holding on to the past we make a conscious decision to no longer treat ourselves as victims, we stop associating ourselves with the old us that once was; this is empowering. After you realize this within yourself, forgiving the other person is no longer a decision you have to make, it is already made. That person no longer holds anything on you. You will free yourself of the pain and the anger.
So, can forgiveness help you change your life? Yes, it can. But you must make a conscious decision to forgive yourself first. Letting go isn’t the hard part, it is telling yourself that you no longer have to be a victim to your past.
Start forgiving and start making a change in your life.
When has forgiveness made an impact on your life?