What is forgiveness? Why is forgiveness so important? Why should I forgive someone who hurt me? I am sure everyone has been hurt by someone once in their lifetime. When you feel so wronged; blamed, accused, or labeled negatively contrary to who you are, hurt sets in your heart toward that person. The scenario of how it happened between you and the other person keeps playing over and over in your head. That overplaying in your head causes you to have anger and frustration, in turn, it keeps you from sleeping well at night. Your nights of sleep are interrupted which in turn creates anxiety in you. Your daily function is clouded with negative mindset because of your unforgiveness. This is a vicious cycle where most people are stuck at.
Forgiveness is choosing to forgive someone whether they deserve it or not. It is important to forgive because Jesus first forgives us. We are all sinners from day one and God chose to forgive us through His son’s death on the cross. The book of Matthew 6:14 from the bible said if you forgive as others hurt you; your Father in heaven will forgive you. This is not just a biblical principle it is a universal principle. An article by American Psychological Association in January 2017 stated “True forgiveness goes a step further, offering something positive—empathy, compassion, understanding—toward the person who hurt you. That element makes forgiveness both a virtue and a powerful construct in positive psychology.” Forgiveness has many benefits to our body, mind, and spirit. Why not mastered it since it is important to our daily living?
Forgiving the person who hurt you is not to discount what they did but to lose the hold you have on yourself from carrying this negative feeling and thought. This negative thought of unforgiveness causes stress in your life and it affects the people closest to you. American Psychology Center from January 2017 said, “Forgiveness allows you to let go of the chronic interpersonal stressors that cause us an undue burden.” It is crucial to forgive due to the need for the body to not be overloaded with unnecessary stressors. A stressor that is within our means to let go.
The other aspect of forgiveness is it takes only one person to forgive and that is you! It only takes a deliberate choice to forgive; it might seem tough to do but it can be done. With practice, it will get easier and easier. When we get hurt it's easy to get walled off or be defensive. Try to press into your hurt and ask yourself why what was said or acted towards you hurt your feelings. Then make a conscientious effort to tell yourself to choose forgiveness. It is liberating when you act on forgiveness.
The last piece I suggest doing is being empathetic towards the other person. There is a reason why he or he acted the way they did. It could be they had a rough upbringing; even though it is not right for them to hurt you, you might feel more sympathetic towards them. The meaning of sympathy is to feel sorry for someone’s misfortune and understanding between person according to the dictionary. Sometimes it's difficult to understand why someone would be so horrible to hurt you purposefully. Until you have lived through that person’s trauma it's hard to be sympathetic. But it can be done through the practice of being compassionate and understanding.
My journey of forgiveness came as an adult after being sexually abused by my brother as an 11-year-old. I was abused for over a year without my parents’ rescue (they knew of my abuse after one year). One of my family members took advantage of my innocence, my vulnerability, and my trust in him. It took me a long time to come to terms with losing my most precious thing, my virginity! No girl should ever have to go through that kind of humiliation, shame, and guilt. My parents were not protecting me, sympathizing with me, or cared about my physical and emotional health. They had no concern towards what damaged was done to me. What was devastating was my mom blamed me for causing the abuse to happen.
How can a young girl process all those traumatic emotions from being sexually abused? It took me years before I met a pastor who counseled me. The pastor told me it wasn’t my fault. I was able to forgive myself because I carried so much shame and guilt. This was huge in my life where I constantly feel unwelcomed by people around me. I constantly feel this heavy load on my life. But after choosing to forgive me I was able to see myself in a better light. I was able to forgive my brother and my parents at different points in my life. Even though my parents and my brother were supposed to protect me, they no longer have any hold on my life. I live as a free person because of who I am in Christ. Christ has set me free from the bondage of being a victim.