Forgiveness is a Gift You Give to Yourself
So we’re talking about forgiveness, huh? Forgiveness is one of those topics that people have a hard time dealing with, especially if the hurt came from someone close to them. This hurt can be crippling and easy to hold on to. Despite how comfortable it is to hold on to the pain of an offense, we have to remember that forgiveness is not for the other person involved, it’s always for us and our wellbeing. In my life, it’s been a long road to this realization about forgiveness, and I struggled through trials for many years as a result. Instead of forgiving fully, I buried the hurt and carried the weight of it all, and this resulted in me, simply, moving on, never confronting or talking about it.
When I was 19 years old, a situation occurred in my life that was the hardest for me to forgive. I suffered a miscarriage, and as a young woman, I felt the weight of it all on my shoulders. I found myself alone most of the time. Not only had the father of my unborn child disappeared, I was, also, embarking on a new phase of my life. We were friends first, so this rejection from him was a major blow to me. Previously, he was someone I confided in, someone I trusted, and when he did not show up for me in my time of need, I was crushed.
I became guarded and built a wall of protection around myself. My trust level for people went out the door. I wasn’t going to allow anyone to hurt me or to make feel inadequate ever again. So, I walked around with heaviness and depression and didn’t realize it. I was hurt, angry, and upset with someone I thought was my friend. My friend hurt me, so when it was time to process what happened, I resorted to how I’d always dealt with hurt which was throwing it to the backburner and refusing to talk about it.
Now, twelve years later, I’m in counseling and finally unpacking the past in a healthy way. “Well, have you ever thought about finding him?” my counselor asked. To this day, I have not seen nor talked to him. I do not know if he is dead or alive. Initially, I was not in support of the idea of finding this man, but my counselor insisted that it would be helpful. I took the idea back to my accountability group to share with them what my counselor suggested as well as to share my thoughts. One of my sister-friends thought it was a good idea, and another said it wouldn’t be a bad thing but, also, advised me not to search too long. I heeded to their advice, and I searched for him for one month. Admittedly, I subconsciously wanted him to be dead in order to avoid this conversation. I know that those deep feelings were bad; however, they were raw and honest.
He didn’t surface in my search for him, so the next step was to write a letter to him as closure. Through this letter, I was allowing myself to be free from him, finally. For many years, he was the reason I was guarded, avoided relationships with other people, and didn’t trust others. He had become the reason why I didn’t love how I should. I was now ready to release the anger. He no longer had control over why I behaved in certain ways.
With tears flowing, I poured out my heart to the people I’ve entrusted with my wellbeing. Seeing my friends cry is when I felt that God was doing something different in my heart. I wanted to be completely healed. I knew that I still needed to forgive him even though I thought I had done that many times over in the past. I realized that I had not completely forgiven him because I picked the hurt back up time and time again. However, this time was different; this was the one time that I thought to myself, “You know what Se’Bon? You have to make a conscious decision to let it go.” I figured that if he is out living his life, he’s living the best that he can live. A close friend helped me to open my mind to see not only my hurt but also, the hurt of the young man. Although he did not show up for me on that day, I have no idea what may have been going through his head. Perhaps it was scary for him, maybe he didn’t understand or know how to handle the situation. For the first time, I could see the part I played; my selfishness showed clearly in that moment. At that time in my life, his well-being did not matter to me because he left me. For many years, I wrestled with that hurt, but now I can empathize with his feelings and see that it may have been hard for him as well.
This letter allowed me to voice that he owes me nothing! I was releasing the pain and the hurt of the past, and then, and only then did I feel complete forgiveness towards him. I knew then that God had truly opened my heart to forgive him. I could now tell my story from a place of total forgiveness and not from a place of anger or despair. I’m grateful that God put me in a situation where I can talk it out.
During this time, God did a major work on my heart. I no longer put all the blame on the other party, but I take responsibility for my part. Now, forgiving is easier than before because of this one offense being lifted. A heavyweight has been lifted through forgiveness, and my perspective has been shifted. I’m ready to forgive because nothing is worth holding on to
especially if it sacrifices my peace, joy, and happiness. Always remember that forgiveness is never, ever about the person or the situation, it’s about you. Don’t allow it to fester because the longer you are bitter, unhappy, and resentful, the longer you suffer. My encouragement and my prayer to you is to let go and let God do a work on your heart. Release it, and I promise you that you will feel a lot better. If I saw him today, I would give him the biggest hug because, guess what, I’m at peace.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.