Finding the Courage to Forgive
When we’ve been hurt, letting go of the pain and walking in forgiveness can be very difficult.
However, holding on to grudges often inhibits us from letting our lights shine as brightly as they should. That not only is harmful to the person who hurt you, but it is also destructive to your own overall well-being.
If you think about a time when someone wronged you, you most likely won’t have fond memories. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Forgive and forget,” but it is common for people not to be able to erase completely the reasons they once felt hurt by others. If the memory alone still makes you feel bitterness toward the person who caused you pain, you have an unhealthy wound that isn’t going to heal with time.
Dr. Judith Orloff, a board-certified psychiatrist and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote in The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life that learning to forgive allows a person to be set free from bitterness in order to reach a point of peace.
"Forgiveness does more for you than anyone else, because it liberates you from negativity and lets you move forward,” she writes. “Forgiving might not make anger totally dissolve, but it will give you the freedom of knowing you are so much more."
And it’s true: you are so much more. The true beauty that it is in you doesn’t need to be pushed back into the shadows to make room for the darkness of resentment. Because no one is perfect, it is inevitable that one day, someone is going to hurt you. But, at the same time, it is also more than likely that you are going to be responsible for causing another person pain.
Holding on to unforgiveness causes you to live in the past—something that can eventually lead to you having trouble in future relationships because you’re not able to let go of the unresolved feelings within you. Being able to forgive someone who deeply hurt you shows strength and the desire to live a life of love rather than hate. Forgiving doesn’t mean that what happened is erased and forever forgotten—it simply means that you are willing to put your pride aside and choose the path of love and healing.
Just because forgiveness is the right thing to do definitely doesn’t mean it is the easy thing to do. Forgiveness is a process, and it certainly takes time. The psychological health benefits, along with the improvement of your overall well-being, will help bring hope and happiness back into your life, making the time spent pursuing forgiveness worth it. Plus, you won’t live a lifetime with bitterness in your heart.
You were made to be you for a reason. By letting yourself cling to the past and not letting forgiveness prevail, you let the true you be overshadowed by a choice that keeps you from experiencing joy and many of the great things in the world around you. But, by breaking the chains of bitterness and ensuring forgiveness wins, you can experience freedom—a freedom that will let the genuine you shine more brightly that you ever could have imagined.