The Work of Forgiving

Today I thought we’d talk about a topic that’s important for any kind of relationship, but especially for family and romantic relationships, and also often challenging.  It’s a topic that can cause many people serious heart palpations because they’ve got stuff in their proverbial closets that they’ve hidden away and never want to be discovered of grudges long held or hurts they’ve received over the years.   Which is ironic because forgiveness is really meant to be a freedom and gift.  I’m sure that a deathbed regret many people have is that they held onto grudges for too long and didn’t release them and it hindered their living a full and satisfying life.  I don’t know about you, but that is a regret I don’t want to have on my deathbed. And if you see forgiving someone even if they won’t forgive you as an issue, don’t.  While forgiveness is something that can restore a relationship when both sides participate, forgiveness can also free you personally from things you’ve held onto.

Personally, I know that I have stuff in my life that I need to forgive myself for.  After all, we’re usually our harshest critics.  We usually demand much more from ourselves than others do, and with that high standard comes lots of opportunities to fall.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a really good thing that we hold ourselves to a standard; it means that we still have hope as people.  It also gives us a chance to really do something with our lives and have big opportunities for success.  Yes with those big opportunities for success do come with big opportunities to fail, but failure and success are both important parts of life, not things that should be avoided.

When we fail, often we’re the first person we need to forgive.  We can’t begin the healing process with anyone we’ve hurt without first having taken a look at ourselves and our responsibility and begun to forgive ourselves for our role in what happened.  Living as damaged people increases the likelihood that we’ll hurt others because we sometimes strike out because we feel hurt and lost.

It’s not easy to forgive if we feel someone deserves whatever hurt they experience, ourselves included.  But beating each other and ourselves up, especially if serious harm wasn’t our goal, isn’t the way to live or contribute to life.  With this year’s spring celebrations upon us, take time to let go of some of the baggage holding you up and forgive yourself so you’re free to take on what the spring brings.

“Forgiving is love’s toughest work, and love’s biggest risk.  If you twist it into something it was never meant to be, it can make you a doormat or an insufferable manipulator.  Forgiving seems almost unnatural.  Our sense of fairness tells us people should pay for the wrong they do.  But forgiving is love’s power to break nature’s rule.”  Lewis B. Smedes

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