In psychology, forgiveness has a general description of letting go of any resentment, dislike, or offense a person inflicted on you. According to multiple studies revolving around forgiveness, this act is highly beneficial to the mind, spirit, body, and soul. Despite the long years of proving its wonders, learning how to forgive is still known as one of the hardest things to do!
We as humans are built to react and fixate on events and words we find offense in. Therefore, this makes the whole process of forgiveness not only challenging. But also, opposing to the human’s nature to react. Despite all of this, God calls us to forgive our brothers and sisters (Ephesians 4:32). Actually, there are multiple instances in the Bible where we are directly called to forgive. So, what really is “forgiveness” and why is it so hard to do so? Why do we even need to forgive those who have hurt us?
What Makes Forgiveness Hard: Debunking Forgiveness
At some point, there are going to words and actions that bother us gravely. As a result, when a person is asking for forgiveness, it seems impossible to hand out. This doesn’t automatically turn a person into someone bad and heartless. However, forgiveness is one of the greatest and most important traits God encourages us to do (Luke 6:37 ).
Here’s the secret, it really isn’t us that does not want to forgive. Deep down, people know that forgiving is the right thing to do. But, there are barriers that somehow forces us not to do it. Here are these barriers and here are ways you can win over them.
Being one of the seven deadly sins, pride is dangerous. Proverbs 16:18 tells us that this goes before destruction. This “destruction” in connection to forgiveness pertains to our tendency to question forgiveness as an “ego killer”. People often associate forgiveness with weakness. It’s this flawed idea that if a person forgives, he or she is somehow frail and easy. But, the Bible tells us the opposite.
Forgiveness is actually one of the strongest characteristics a person can have. It takes humility, patience, and a lot of wisdom for a person to forgive another. On the other hand, pride brings nothing but, pain and grudge. It is easier to cling onto bitterness than to let go and experience freedom through forgiveness. Whenever a person causes you pain, learn to let go of your pride the moment it gets to you. In this way, you will be able to see how pointless pride is when it comes to your overall physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.
Memories can sometimes be a bad thing. Whenever we are dealing with a person who hurt us, we immediately think back on the previous moments when they hurt us similarly. Memories trigger our grudges towards other people when we are sensitive and shaken. This is why when married couples fight, they usually reminisce previous fights and say statements like “remember the time when you..”. This makes forgiving harder for all people!
But, the greatest highlight of memories is how exaggerated and futile it is. When a person feels betrayed, looking back on the other’s flaws just worsens the whole scenario. If you decide to forgive a person, you have to stop tricking yourself. Do not say that you forgive them when you are still counting the mistakes they have done in the past. If you forgive, forgive completely.
Then, if you do this, you will not get trapped in the past. Memories play a big role in forgiveness. This is why Proverbs 17:9 reminds us of the line “but he who repeats a matter separates close friends”. The solution is simple but, people overlook this; in order to create new and beautiful memories with a person, you have to let go of the old and ugly ones. When you forgive, start with a new beginning!
Grudge comes with one’s desire for vengeance. Sometimes, people cannot forgive because of their unmet desires of “getting back” at the person who hurt them. While anger is hard to contain, grudge itself is on another level. Grudge taints good memories with false bitterness and it entices a person to inflict harm to themselves and the people who hurt them.
Truly, grudge sounds like a strong word. But, in reality, it is very useless and nonbeneficial to our lives. Humans tend to think that they have the power to inflict vengeance over another person. When in reality, vengeance is something we should leave to God (Romans 12:19). Think of it this way, when our phones get broken, do we seek solutions to the phone itself or its manufacturer?
Of course, the right decision is to contact the phone’s manufacturer to get it fixed. No matter how angry and frustrated we are, only the manufacturer has the power to do anything. Whenever we are holding resentment or grudge towards someone, understand that God sees all our pain and sorrows. He will do something about it, we only have to wait. Grudge doesn’t do what only God can and that’s how to heal our hurt hearts.
Our desire to feel like a person is bringing us down is not only frequent but, common. The idea of forgiveness makes us feel as if we are giving the other person a chance to look down and belittle us. Again, this is because of the flawed notion we have that forgiveness equates to weakness. Whenever we feel like we are losing because we forgave, this isn’t the fault of the person we forgave but, our lack of good self-image.
A solution to this is simple; we have to change how we truly see ourselves and our lives. Opinions, societal associations, and the rise of false media should not be given permission to alter our perception of what is right. We have to be mindful enough to understand that when we forgive, we actually become stronger in terms of our mental maturity. And that’s always better!
Lack of Communication
This is one of the greatest mistakes people tend to ignore when they are in the process of forgiving. When we lack communication, we tend to imagine or even exaggerate conclusions that make our anger levels higher. For instance, when we are on the verge of anger without communication, we tend to overthink. We fail to consider what the other person is feeling or thinking. As a result, forgiveness is even more challenging to obtain.
Communication is a habit everyone should master to live a peaceful life. Whenever something or someone bothers you, address it the moment you feel something. Never allow hate to make a home in your hearts. Also, you might even be surprised to see how the other side understands the situation. It takes understanding to forgive a person, and it is a given that no one fully understands something if they cannot communicate. This is why many marriage advisors encourage communication!
How To Forgive Easily and Permanently
Nothing good will come out of denial. If you are hurt, stop convincing yourself that you aren’t. If you find something offensive, don’t try to hide it. The first step on permanently forgiving someone is acknowledging your feelings. You cannot release something you hide deep inside your system. Understand that you are human, don’t try to invalidate yourself for feeling hurt or anger.
After acknowledging what needs to be acknowledged, you are now able to move forward and assess what actions must be done. For example, let’s say a person was to be badly hurt by her relative. If she denies what she is feeling, her inner self is still convinced of the pain she is feeling. Because of this, a grudge is likely to form. It is always better to battle with honesty. The Lord sees every corner of a person’s heart so, there is no point in hiding what you’re feeling. You have to know what you are forgiving to actually forgive – It’s that simple!
Not everybody likes the idea of confrontation. But, it is a need in order to achieve forgiveness. There are two types of confrontation you have to take note of. First, is a confrontation with yourself. If something that hurt you isn’t because of the other person’s actions and words. Instead, the pain or anger you are feeling is caused by either your insecurity, sensitivity, or prejudice. This calls for confrontation with no one but, yourself.
In order to do this, you need the humility to acknowledge that you are being upset over something unreasonable. Humans as we are, it is normal to feel these emotions but, we have to address it before it becomes detrimental to our inner state. Learning how to forgive doesn’t apply only to the people around us. Sometimes, what’s holding us back from forgiveness is none other than ourselves.
The second type of confrontation deals with the people around us. No one can avoid the feeling of anger or pain but, we can face it correctly. Before the confrontation, you need to be in the state where you’re calm enough to be wise and open enough to understand. People should not allow their emotions to define their actions. If you truly want to forgive a person, all the negative thoughts and intentions must be cleared so there’s room for understanding and forgiveness.
Understanding is probably one of the greatest factors that allow forgiveness to take place. If it is hard to answer a complicated problem in math, imagine how challenging it is to understand a person in their utmost entirety! Indeed, understanding is hard. But, it is hard for a reason. Actions that benefit us such as exercise, eating healthy, or working hard takes us plenty of effort. Understanding is similar – But, if we get used to it, it becomes a habit.
In order to learn how to forgive, we need to train our “understanding” like a muscle. Whenever we are faced with situations that bother, it is better to consider the other person’s condition. If a person hurts us, understand their situation too. In this way, you are able to get a better sight of why they are acting oddly. Understanding allows people to live beautiful lives with great relationships and peace – If we want to learn how to forgive, we have to be open to understanding. These two are indivisible.
“Letting go” or “moving on” are statements people like to incorporate in their statements. Releasing is a stronger form of forgiveness. If you are in a situation where it seems like God is teaching you a lesson out of that person and the pain they caused you, releasing is the answer. There are events in our lives that hurt so badly to the point where it feels traumatic. Unfortunately, these memories are engraved in our existence but, what truly matters is whether or not we give it permission to haunt us for life.
If a person is placed in a situation like this, the need in mastering how to forgive demands a higher form of forgiveness. Releasing takes place when a person intentionally and actively frees themselves from the anger, sorrow, or pain they have felt in the past. This is a higher form of forgiveness because even if the person didn’t ask for forgiveness, releasing negative emotions automatically forgives them. This type of forgiveness usually isn’t for the person causing pain but, for the person who experienced it.
Forgive enemies even if they don’t ask for it. We should always be reminded that whatever sorrow that took our joy from the past, is nothing compared to the bliss God is going to bless us tomorrow. This puts grudge and hatred as useless factors in our lives we have to completely let go of. Just like moving to a new house, we need to let go of new and better things to come. This again is needed in the art of how to forgive.
Prayer is powerful. Especially in situations when the right thing to do is conflicted with the easier thing to do, we need God more. When we pray, we are truthfully declaring what we feel and how we are planning on addressing it. If we do this, our minds become clearer about the situation that’s presented before us. As a result, we think clearer, act lesser, and do better.
Here’s what you do; Before stepping up, tell God what you would tell the person you want to forgive. See, God is the Artist behind every single person we see. If we have complaints or we feel negative emotions towards an artist’s work, we address them first. Tell God what you would tell the person you feel pain and anger on. The things you cannot tell God are the things you also cannot tell His Creation.
This practice allows you to practice a more careful and softer tone in how you speak. Also, you are going to gain insight on how you should treat people. Most of us forget how God is the best destination to go to when we want to practice gratitude and forgiveness! Why? Because He always listens!
“In time” is truly a life-changing phrase. The reason behind why we should not release painful words and violent actions is because, in time, we will heal – It’s not a probability, but a guarantee. So, as we heal, let’s not cause pain to the others in the process. Time is a guaranteed blessing. Wounds can heal, cells regenerate, and the pain fades away.
Never allow yourself to forget that in every second of your day, God is fixing your heart 24/7. If God can create the universe in seven days, separate seas, heal people, save everyone, defeat evil, lift His People – He can’t and will heal you. Time heals because God can.
How to Forgive And The Price of Forgiveness
There are many rewards attached to a person when they learn how to forgive. God forgives us when we forgive others (Mark 11:25), God blesses us when we forgive, our bodies and minds function better. And of course, our lives become more peaceful and rewarding. Life is too short and beautiful to waste on pain and anger we can just choose to let go of.
In general, knowing how to forgive is an asset we can learn to live life fully. Apart from its many benefits, we are also called to offer our forgiveness to others. As what’s in Genesis 1:27, the Lord made us lovingly in His own Image. Because we are made in the image of our Maker, we have to remember that God forgives. If He can forgive His people, we have no reason to act selfishly by withholding our forgiveness to those who have hurt us. At the end of the day, not forgiving takes away life’s liveliness. If you want to learn how to live freely, learn how to forgive first.