The Long Road to Forgiveness

By Samantha McKenzie

Forgiveness is one of the most freeing things a person can do, yet it’s one of the hardest trials to overcome in ourselves. It requires us to take a really long look in the mirror and then have the courage to face what we see.

Injuries, whether physical or mental, create the climax in one of our stories. It brings the agony without warning and sends our emotions into a tailspin. It’s personal to us, so naturally the plot thickens. We first have to deal with the immediate pain. Then we begin to feverishly search for answers. Why did this happen? What did I do to deserve this? How can I get past it? Who can I trust?

nelson-mandela-forgiveness-1024x718In the early stages of our injuries, forgiveness is nowhere in sight. We are clouded by the offense (…this freaking hurts!). The pain of breaking a leg is as equally traumatic as the pain of betrayal. Don’t expect forgiveness immediately. And don’t force others to prematurely forgive you. The steps are necessary and the wait is a part of the healing process.

Time by itself doesn’t heal old wounds. Mostly, it gives us room to hide away our hurt. Sometimes, we hide it so far away we start to believe we’ve moved on. Time should be used to face our fears. It should be coupled with our honesty. We should use the time to sort out what’s real and what’s fake.

It’s been drilled into our heads that we should forgive others. We’re told to just let it go, move on with our lives. We speak “forgiveness” language but in our hearts, we don’t mean it.c00b67b438888e25ec1e2efe13a0d0d4

Forgiveness is not a warm and fuzzy process. You can’t rehearse the lines and repeat it back to appease others. It doesn’t work that way. The skills needed to forgive aren’t passed down from the pulpit either. There’s no hallmark card or theme music or easy road to take to get there. It’s a deliberate type of action that starts from within. It appears when you are intentional about “doing the work.” Truth is, forgiveness is just as painful as the injury, but when you finally get to that place in your heart, and deal with yourself, it creates a magical healing inside of you that totally elevates your humanity.

First, we have to learn how to forgive ourselves. It’s time we recognize that we are never going to be perfect and we should stop using perfection as a measuring tool for others. It’s impossible. It is a part of gaining back your freedom and it is the best form of self love.

Next, deal with your emotional scars. Put a name to embarrassment, shame and humiliation. Say it out loud. Scream it if you must. Admit that you were left feeling used and abandoned, scared and alone. Your feelings are valid and are important to your livelihood. It’s very human of you to be sensitive. Real strength lies in accepting our frailties and carrying on in spite of.

Forgiving others, whether they deserve it or not, is about freeing yourself from a story that has run its course. Forgiveness is about how much you love your freedom. It doesn’t excuse another person’s behavior nor does it give them permission to do it again. Instead, it loosens your vice grip and allows you to exhale!

After a while, you’ll find that it doesn’t hurt as much. The knots in your stomach have faded away. And you are free to create new chapters to your story.

 

 

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