You’ve been wronged!! It was not your fault, yet now you are left to deal with the consequences of someone else’s bad decision. So, why are you the one who has to work through the emotional challenges, and FORGIVE someone who has caused you such grief? ARGH!!!!!
First of all, your argument as stated above is 100% correct in how a normal person would react to that situation. It is very common, and again normal, to have feelings of resentment, anger, and frustration when others have created additional stress and emotional strain in your life. You did not ask for this, you did not even deserve this kind of action based on your treatment towards that person… yet here you are….a recipient having to deal with someone else mess up.
Can we start with this? Forgiveness is NOT letting someone off the hook. It is neither giving someone the right to treat you poorly, nor is it a willing acceptance that what the other has done to hurt you is OK.
So, what is forgiveness then?
Let’s go back to the emotions that you are feeling, or have felt when you have been wronged. Emotional hurt, duress, hate, continual frustration, vengefulness, anger, and so on. These emotions can be disabling! They destroy our happiness, and have placed us somewhere that we don’t want to be. They can perpetuate the continual cycle of more resentment… more anger… more unhappiness.
Forgiveness is a gift… to YOU! It has been proven time and again, that when a person forgives, they are essentially setting themselves free of all of their emotional hardships. You are unlocking the prison cell of emotions that you have spent the past day, months, or perhaps even years stuck in. A weight is lifted from your very core. You begin to excel once again.
So if forgiveness will make you feel better, how do you do it? It’s hard to actually forgive someone. It goes against how we all have been wired… right?
Let me suggest a first step. When I think of my own life, I realize that I have done things that are wrong. I have hurt others through my actions. I have made some mistakes… even some BIG ones. With my own life, I have found myself asking for forgiveness from others…. And wanting it badly. Take a moment and think of your life as well. Can you relate to what I have just said? (At this point, do not compare your level of mistakes to another’s….You’ll miss the point).
Are you still with me? Let’s continue. Every action and choice that we… and others make, carries a consequence. Some of those consequences of our choices are positive and produce happiness. Some, the consequences are negative, and can even produce a consequence of legal action.
Let me toss out a scenario for your consideration, to display the aspects of what we have been discussing. Someone breaks into your home and steals your priceless stuff. This makes us feel mad, fearful, and violated. We choose to apply the principle of forgiveness… to let it go so that we can rid ourselves of the emotional baggage that this has created…. BUT… it still doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t show up in court and testify against him for his crime….Right? There are consequences of his actions. Forgiveness affects us… It does not release that person from the consequences of their actions.
But what about other times that we have been wronged, that don’t involve the law. What if someone that we love has betrayed us, or emotionally hurt us because of their actions? What then?
It doesn’t matter if the level of being wronged is small, or incredibly large, the principle power of forgiveness is constant. There is ALWAYS a freedom that is given to the person who chooses to forgive another. Forgiveness transforms anger and hurt into healing and peace. It will help you overcome feelings of depression, anxiety, and rage, as well as personal and relational conflicts.
Please focus on this… You are not letting that person off of the hook. They will experience consequences for their actions. Some while here on earth, and certainly in the life to come. You are not to act as the judge here. However, it is important that you have an opportunity to express how the actions of another have hurt you, for that is part of their consequence.
It is my belief that what confuses the issue of forgiveness is when we feel that the next step is with us to decide… Should I forgive or not? This logic clouds the principle. We are forgiving to rid us of the emotional burden that we are carrying, not to tell the other person that what just happened was ok.
So, free yourself. It’s truly that simple. As you choose to forgive, you will feel a sense of rebirth; a return to a happier state. As we choose to forgive, we enter a higher state of personal achievement which perhaps has been illusive in our lives…”Unconditional Love”… but that’s a topic for another day.