There is something that has been pressed upon me to write about. I have been resisting publishing it, but someone out there is needing it. So whoever you are, this piece is for you.
There’s a lot to be said for forgiveness. When we think of forgiveness, we often think of something that we have to ask for, and be approved or denied of. An atonement of sorts. That if it isn’t bestowed on us by someone else, than we are destined to carry around our guilt like a scarlet letter. That if we do not tell someone that they are forgiven by us, than we are sentencing them to a lifetime of that same suffering. In that right, where forgiveness frees us, we use unforgiveness as the payback to our aggressors and yet the only one reaping that payback, is the one who is unwilling to forgive. It cuts both ways.
Something that took far longer than ideal, for me to learn is that forgiveness is not for the other person. When I forgive someone who has done me wrong, I forgive them for me. I don’t wait for an apology or even demand one. Because we all know that we are human and though we can say that we forgive, we can still carry resentment towards them in our hearts. If we hinged our own forgiveness solely on the true intentions of the ones forgiving us, most of us would never truly receive forgiveness in the way it was intended. In order for me to be able to let that affliction go and move on with my life unbridled to that offense, I have to forgive and let it be done.
When you are seeking to be forgiven, that person that you are wanting to absolve you – Does not even have to be present in the situation, at all. Maybe they passed away before you got the chance to make amends or maybe they are committed to staying bitter towards you and their forgiveness will never come. How then do you become free?
Forgiveness for ourselves and others, requires us to recognize our faults in a situation, or to recognize our power over a situation. Depending on if you are the person needing to forgive or the one seeking to be forgiven. When I can humble myself enough to examine wherever I went wrong, my next step is to forgive myself. That alone was harder for me to do than I had originally thought it would be. Often times we can forgive others so much faster than we can ever learn to forgive ourselves. Because of the simple fact that we know ourselves intimately, we are the hardest on ourselves when we make a mistake. Now if I value humility, I will state my wrongs to the one that I harmed and ask for their forgiveness, but again – Whether they are open to it or not – In forgiving myself, I have been absolved from having to live bound to my offense.
Whether the person you are seeking forgiveness from ever provides it or not, if you have not forgiven yourself than you are destined to walk through life with those same chains of your mistakes shackled around you.
In the Bible, Jesus was the living atonement for our sins. The crucifixion was the ultimate sacrifice for us to receive that forgiveness from God, the Father, through the sacrifice of his own blood. The scriptures seem to talk about repentance just as much if not more than the act of forgiving. The act of repentance requires humility.
Humility requires us to reflect on ourselves, see where we went wrong, and have the true desire to make it right. To turn away from that which we have done and never go back to those ways again. To be renewed through the process of understanding our downfalls.
Have you ever forgiven someone who wasn’t sorry? How hard was it for you to let that thing that they did to you, go, in order to really forgive them? I’ve had to do it many times, and it took a lot longer for me to get to that place of forgiveness than it would have had they just came to me an apologized. Have you ever wanted to be absolved by someone who had no desire in forgiving you? I have experienced this as well and it is equally as hard to move on, when you know someone is dedicated to harboring your shortcomings, against you. We are human and have this innate ability to be completely blinded by judgment for other people’s flaws. It is only through humility where we take close examination of ourselves and begin to be humbled by the fact that we are just as human as the person who hurt us and equally susceptible to making the same mistakes.
Where humility is present, we then realize that it is through grace that we are forgiven.
Now I will be the first to admit that I am no stranger to the realm of unforgiveness. I was faced with having to forgive my mother-in-law for things that most of us would never offer our absolution to someone else for. It took me an entire year to come to a place of forgiveness for her and it was a torturous year. For a good while, I didn’t want her apology, I wanted her head on a stick. I have never in my life been so enraged and full of such hate for anyone in the way that I was, in that situation. I’ve been angry, but never to the point of having pure hate for anyone, like that. It was dark and it was palpable. I thought there would never be a day where I could actually forgive her. But the way that I looked at forgiveness was skewed.
I saw forgiveness as what I had always known it to be, “You hurt me, I forgive you, now we’re friends again and trust is restored.” Because that’s what I had always done before.
Because I had viewed forgiveness as something I would have to do to put us back together, I couldn’t do it. I didn’t trust her anymore. I didn’t see her in the same light and I knew that I couldn’t go back.
As I started to search on forgiveness and what it really meant, I began to understand that my forgiveness wasn’t to say, “It’s all good, you can come back into my life now,” but rather for me to be free of the noose of bitterness around my own neck. I had to forgive, for me.
When the scripture talks about how God forgives us, it says that he will forgive us and remember our sins no more. Isn’t that something? God, who is blameless, can look at our faulty selves, forgive us and remember our transgressions no more?! If he could do that, than surely I could forgive another human being who is just as susceptible to fouling up, as I am! Oh if it were only that easy to come by, right? But it is.
God knew that we would struggle with forgiveness because of our own self-righteousness, our ego. He didn’t tell us to do it when we felt ready. Or to weigh out everything that that person has ever done to us and balance it against the cost of forgiving them. He just told us – Forgive. On top of that, he said to BLESS those who curse you. BLESS your enemies. BLESS the ones whom have hurt or offend you. Now that concept for me while in my bitterness, was an egregious act. How was God just going to tell me to bless someone who has harmed me and the people that I love? How could He tell me to bless someone who is not sorry? I struggled with it. My husband struggled with it. We could not see what good blessing our enemies would do. One, they don’t know we are blessing them and two, they wouldn’t care even if they did – So why would this step matter? And at times I was even upset at God for telling me to do something so seemingly ridiculous and outside of my norm. Until… I did it.
“Bless those who persecute (curse) you.” God knew he was going to ruffle some feathers with that one! Curses come in all forms, don’t they?
You may not have physically stolen from me, but you’ve stolen my peace. You may not have physically hurt me, but you’ve hurt me emotionally. You may not have physically destroyed me, but you’ve destroyed my relationships. You may not have physically wounded me, but you’ve wounded my heart. You may not have physically broken me, but you’ve broken my trust.
The only plus side to physical wounds is that eventually, you heal from them. The initial shock wears off, the pain stops and you’re better. But how we emotionally wound someone can stay locked in their minds and hearts for a lifetime, if allowed. What originally starts out as disappointment or a hurt feelings, can easily turn into bitterness and resentment. There is a key to blessing those who have wronged us.
The scriptures say that, the power of life and death reside in the tongue. We have the ability to speak life into someone and we have the ability to speak death into them, all through our words. When I choose to bless those who have wronged me I am saying,
“Though you used your tongue to curse me – I will use the same tongue to bless you. I will use my petition for God’s favor over you, to restore and renew you, by the same tool that you have used to destroy me. You lied about me, but now I’m going to speak LIFE. You called me names, but now I’m going to speak LIFE. You destroyed my reputation, but now I’m going to speak LIFE. You stole my peace, but now I’m going to speak LIFE. You betrayed my trust, but now I’m going to speak LIFE. You used me, but now I’m going to speak LIFE. I won’t live under the same curse of death that you put on me, I will transform it for us BOTH, by speaking LIFE!”
Now that, is powerful.
Blessing those who have harmed you, pulls your mind from the gutter of unforgiveness. It wipes away the sludge and film of resentment, and raises your mind and your heart out of it. It doesn’t matter how much your mind runs on loop over how awful this person did you wrong – Your heart can still love them and wish for things to be whole again. Your heart wants to forgive. Your heart is on the path to forgiveness even when your mind isn’t in the same zipcode, because there is love.
Your mind, is a snare. It traps all thoughts, good and bad and holds them hostage long after your heart was ready to let them go.
The mind is the part of us that keeps us bound, until we snatch it up and take control over it. When you bless the ones who have perpetrated against you – It’s a real game changer. And at first, your mind is resistant.
With each time and every blessing that you speak over them, you are training your mind and heart to ACT in the intention of love — Which bares the fruit of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the fruit of love. The road to forgiveness is paved by the action of blessing.
The act of love carried out through blessing someone else, aligns both your heart and your mind to each other. Every time that you speak blessings over their lives you are both sowing and reaping forgiveness. Forgiveness for yourself and for that person whom hurt you. The more that you bless them, the easier the forgiveness comes to you and the quicker you recover from what attached you to the emotional wound. In this, it changes everything. As you bless others, you are in-turn being blessed as well. That negative intention of wanting vengeance is gone. Those negative thoughts, diminish. In essence you have taken the steps to heal your own mind and heart, with or without anyone’s apologies, just by blessing them.
I’ve talked a bit in the past about ego, but this area is where ego nearly dropped me to my knees. This is where ego goes from a mere ten to one thousand percent. Ego is that thing that tells us that they do not deserve to be forgiven because of how much they’ve hurt us. Ego tells us that they do not deserve to be blessed after what they’ve done. That we deserve the apology and the right to bestow our forgiveness when we feel ready. Ego is self. Ego is carnal, it is judgement. Ego stops us from learning and evolving. Ego is full of fault and using emotion as its deciding factor. As emotions fluctuate, so does ego. It’s comfortable. And ego is what originally tried its best to stop me from blessing the ones who had hurt me. It wasn’t automatic that I let go of ego, forgave and spoke blessings. I had to be firm with myself, in order to press through my own ego and find the ability to both forgive and to bless. When we step outside of our ego and bless those who have wronged us, we are going against the very thing that feels comfortable. But the more that we do it, the more our own ego slinks further and further into the background, and our spirit takes center.
Forgiveness is not an easy road. We are killing the ego, killing self, killing our reason, killing the comfortable – In order to forgive.
Blessing those whom have wounded us, becomes the insurance policy that they will stay forgiven in both our minds and our hearts. It is the wager towards our emotional freedom. Because the more that we do it, the more that we can’t even make ourselves go back to the anger, hostility or hurt feelings that we were at one time overwhelmed by.
Every time I have thought about forgiveness and blessing, I see in my mind a double-edged sword. Cutting both ways.
If I don’t forgive you, than I cannot be forgiven. If I don’t bless you, than I cannot be blessed. If I don’t control my ego, than my ego controls me.
If you are struggling with how to forgive someone, the most effective way of going about it – Is to start speaking blessings over their lives.
Speaking blessings is like the waves of the ocean that erode away the rock. We are the rock, covered in centuries of calcifications and algae having been transformed by our circumstances into being dull and lacking in magnificence. But as the waves of blessings, ebb and flow — As they go out to bless the one we are speaking them over, they come back with the tide to bless us, removing the hardening that circumstances have caused to us, and bring back to existence our previous luster. It’s a two-fold process that pays back in dividends, in the end.
Start speaking blessings over those that you have found it hard to entertain a positive thought about. Blessings over the ones you find it difficult to forgive. Keep doing it. Over time, you will notice that your mind is changing and your heart is already aligned to that change. Forgiveness is your ticket to freedom, paid in full by your action of blessing others.