Forgive before the sun goes down

by Jonathan Thiart

Forgiveness is not easy. Take a moment to think back to the last time that someone hurt you, when you couldn’t think of anything but of how you would get back at them. Do you think it feels good to think like that, to have such thoughts? If it doesn’t feel good it clearly can’t be good for you. The anger generated from the wrong is brought back by these thoughts, and this feeling can be brought back over and over if you choose to bear a grudge. Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

Forgiveness is not easy because, your instinct tells you when someone hurts you: it is best to isolate yourself from this person. This takes you away, and you do not have to deal with the situation at all. By completely avoiding this person it can seem that you stay away from being hurt again but in reality you are allowing yourself to avoid the problem and create that single hurt to become something more than just a scar. You do not allow yourself to heal and grow.

The people most likely to hurt us are the ones that are closest to us. And if you use the logic of isolating yourself you may allow the hurt to cause you to lose those closest to you. Many areas of our lives can suffer, when we hold on to pain, old grudges, bitterness and even hatred. When we think forgiveness is not easy, it is we who pay the price over and over. We may bring our anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Being avoided by family and friends because they don’t enjoy being around you. Automatically thinking the worst about people or situations. Our lives may be so wrapped up in the wrong that we can’t enjoy the present.

Confucius famously said “To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.” Meaning that by holding a grudge you allow the negative feeling to prevent you from moving on. If you hold a grudge you let that person take hold of you through the hurt they have caused. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that bond.

Actual studies have shown that holding grudges can do damage to your health.  It creates higher blood pressure, heart rates, and more stress than a body can take. I understand it hurts when someone does wrong, but don’t torture yourself more by holding on to that hurt. Open your heart and find happiness. Who knows - you might get your best friend back.

There’s no one definition of forgiveness. But in general, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentments and thoughts of revenge. To forgive is to remove yourself from thoughts and feelings that bring you back to the offense committed against you. It allows you to reduce the power the pain has over you, allowing you to live a freer and happier life in the present.

I can hear you asking, doesn’t forgiving someone mean you’re forgetting or condoning what happened?

A great man once said, “Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person's throat.” W. Paul Young.

Forgiving someone does not excuse his or her act, or his or her responsibility for what they have done. Even though you have forgiven someone it may mean the act they did will still remain in your life. However it will have less of a hold on you and you will have more space to be able to live your life. Forgiveness allows you to focus on more important and positive parts of your life.

Being able to forgive is beneficial to you. It can solve a problem, mend relationships and it is scientifically proven to be good for your health.

CS Lewis said, “Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim--letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.” Forgiveness is not easy. The first step to forgiveness is to understand the value of forgiving. You need to understand why it is best to forgive rather than to seek revenge or to hold a grudge.

It is hard to be happy if you have all that bitterness inside you. Take the first step towards forgiving because, holding a grudge is like holding a piece of burning coal, in the end you are not burning anyone else but yourself.