For many, forgiveness can be such a difficult thing to give, sometimes. The pain that the other person(s) has caused by their mistake(s) can feel like it has become such a part of who we are that giving forgiveness to the one(s) that caused such pain can feel like betraying those feelings, betraying yourself. I think, in instances such as this, the true meaning of forgiveness has been forgotten or confused. The forgiveness is for your healing, not the healing of another, though the other person may find healing in it, as well.
There is a person in my world that is holding onto the wrongs he (no, not my husband) experienced as a child/teen at the hands of his parents. They didn’t beat him or anything like that. From what I can tell from the description of what happened, it sounds like parents making a grievous error in a desperate measure to attempt to protect their child from himself. No, I don’t agree with the actions the parents took, but I can see what they were thinking. He, on the other hand, can only see the wrong in what they did. Its sad. Heartbreaking. You see, one of my friend’s parent’s health is not great. My friend is missing out on a relationship with his parents because he can’t let go of the pain they caused with a single action during his rebelious teen years. Apparently, holding on to the pain is more comforting to him than letting it go. Or, maybe he has held onto this pain for so long, it feels as if it is a part of him and the fear of letting it go is too much. I want so desperately to make this friend see the pain he is causing himself. He is bearing the offenses of another as if they were his own, in my opinion.
But, forgiveness is personal. No one can make you forgive another until you have processed what you’re feeling, can stand back from the situation long enough to be objective, find what part is making you sick, and willingly let it go for yourself, not the other person. My friend is waiting for his parents to atone for their wrongs before he is willing to heal. He has been working on dealing with all of his childhood issues, heal from them, remove the things that cause him to act in ways his is not pleased with and he has made some significant progress in his path. This is one area that he cannot, is unwilling to, seem to see from any other perspective or view point than the one of the hurt child. No matter what anyone has said to him to try to help him see that forgiveness is a gift he gives to himself, not his parents, he holds on steadfastly.
The freedom that we give to ourselves through forgiving others is so powerful. When the weight of holding on to the wrongs is lifted, their is room enough to forgive ourselves for allowing another to harm us. We learn how to ask for forgiveness for wrongs we may have committed. We grow, become better than we were before, and are less likely to commit offenses against others because we have opened up our mind to the perspective of another, if only for a better understanding of ourself.
I tend to forgive too readily. I have a really hard time holding a grudge. It takes too much energy to remain sick. This is not to say that I have perfected the art of forgiveness because I most assuredly have not. When I realize I am holding on to the pain and/or discomfort caused by the actions of another, I try to figure out exactly what it is that I am finding so damaging that I am refusing to let go and why I have the death grip on it. I don’t try to figure out the cause of the actions of the other(s). Well, not usually at first. The pain/discomfort is mine so I have to figure out my end of it before I can even begin to try to look at the impetus of the actions of the other person. What I’ve come to learn throughout my life is that all of the responsibility of my giving forgiveness is mine. And you know what?I love myself to allow myself to let go of the pain and send forgiveness to another with love.