Forgiveness. I won’t preach it to you. I, for one, have struggled with it at times in my own life. What I can do is share my experiences with it. I already wrote about one. You can read it here. https://silencespeaksdotblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/the-power-of-forgiveness/
I think there are misconceptions about forgiveness. One is the notion of forgive and forget. I read an article once by a member of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2004/08/forgiveness-our-challenge-and-our-blessing?lang=eng In it Steve F. Gilliland says that in most cases, short of brain surgery, it’s not possible to forget what someone did to you. That’s not what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is being able to remember something, but not have the same feelings associated with it. Just because you haven’t forgotten what someone did to you doesn’t mean you haven’t forgiven.
Another misconception is that forgiveness means continuing to have a relationship with someone who is abusive or toxic. Elder Jeffery R. Holland put this myth to rest when he said, “It is, however, important for some of you living in real anguish to note what [Christ] did not say. He did not say, ‘You are not allowed to feel true pain or real sorrow from the shattering experiences you have had at the hand of another.’ Nor did He say, ‘In order to forgive fully, you have to reenter a toxic relationship or return to an abusive, destructive circumstance.’” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/10/the-ministry-of-reconciliation?lang=eng There are abusive and toxic people that I know longer have in my life. That is to protect the mental and physical health of myself and my children. When I think of the things they things they did to me or the toxic behavior they continuously exhibited I no longer feel anger, hurt, sadness or fear. It’s possible to forgive and also have boundaries or cut ties altogether.
I’ve heard some people say that forgiveness doesn’t help you, it only helps the person who hurt you—as if forgiving means you are okay with what someone did or don’t think there need to be any consequences. I don’t think this is true. Forgiveness lifts the burden of pain off your shoulders—at least it has for me. Life has been a struggle. I recently wrote about a curve ball boulder that hit me. Since then, it feels as if boulder after boulder after boulder has been dropped on me. Some might say that I should be angry, but anger doesn’t help me or anyone around me. Forgiveness and giving that anger over to God has helped me understand more than I ever have before what it means to give my burden to God. Is there still some pain, sadness and uncertainty? Yes. But I feel lighter and more capable. I still believe in consequences. I can believe in them and still forgive, still have that burden removed.
For me, forgiveness turned an enemy into a friend (my previous story), and it has also allowed me to continue going despite incredibly difficulty. It has brought me incredible peace and strength. If forgiveness has made a difference in your life, I’d love to hear about it.