Several years before I met my husband, I dated my high school sweetheart. We thought we were in love and were destined to spend the rest of our lives together.
That is, of course, until he got his EX pregnant. Again.
I’ve been lied on, lied to, used and abused by family, friends, and EXs who said they love me. Though I have a right to hold grudges, I’m obligated to forgive.
And even though he worked hard to convince me that we could work around this “small” issue with a new baby, I still found it necessary to move on.
Because forgiveness doesn’t necessarily require me to be in the same type of relationship with him. That would have required blindness, stupidity, insanity and a lot of other things that I don’t have.
What exactly is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is the art of letting go of your desire for compensation, apologies, or revenge, even though you deserve all of that and more.
When you’ve truly forgiven someone, you no longer want to see an 18-wheeler run over their toes. You stop longing for the day they will knock on your door with 120 roses, get down on one knee and beg for a second chance—so you can slam the door in their face.
Though all of that would be nice, it’s no longer required because you’ve chosen to let them off the hook. You’ve chosen to let go of the offense and pray for their well-being.
And now, you’re able to see them on the street, make small talk, and keep it moving.
Not the easiest thing to do, but apparently it’s doable. Or else, God wouldn’t require it.
If you struggle to forgive anybody who has hurt you, here are 5 steps to help you get there.
- Focus on God’s mercy towards you. The Bible is very clear on the subject of forgiveness:
If you can’t forgive others, God can’t forgive you. Matthew 18: 23 -35
When you think about the fact that you could spend eternity in hell because you can’t forgive someone for hurting you, you have to ask yourself: is it worth it?
And as you are harping on the fact that you didn’t deserve to be treated that way, think about all the people you may have hurt intentionally and unintentionally who didn’t deserve it. Now ask yourself: do I deserve to be punished for the rest of my life for the mistakes that I made?
Truthfully, none of us are perfect. We all need God to forgive us and we all need forgiveness from each other.
2. Write a letter to the person who hurt you- but you don’t have to send it. Go ahead and get it all out. Say all those things you’ve always wanted to say but couldn’t think of them in the moment, because maybe you were in shock. Call him all the names that you’re too dignified to say to his face. Talk about his momma if it will help you feel better. The point is to allow yourself to vent without interruptions, distractions and lame apologies.
Clear your head. Get your frustrations out.
Now tear the letter up and act like it never happened (or keep it in your journal, if you must).
3. At the appropriate times, allow yourself to cry if you need to. Remember when you were a child and you cried yourself to sleep at night? It was some of the best sleep you ever got. You woke up the next morning and almost forgot why you were crying in the first place.
Crying can be very therapeutic.
After a good cleansing cry, you simply feel better.
But if at all possible, try to get the majority of it out at home. This will decrease the chances of you having random fits when you’re at the grocery store or at work. You don’t want to completely lose your dignity in front of strangers or colleagues, over someone who probably doesn’t deserve it.
4. Give yourself closure. Sometimes, it’s hard for us to get over the pain because we want answers. We want to know:
- “why they did it?”
- “how could they do such a thing to someone who loved them so much?”
- “if there is anything we could have done differently to change their minds?
The truth is, we may never get the honest answers to our questions. We may never get a much deserved apology or the closure we need from the person who hurt us, so we have to give it to ourselves.
One way to get closure, is to assure yourself that healthy human interaction will never leave you feeling this way. The person who hurt you so bad, couldn’t possibly be mentally or spiritually healthy.
Because, hurt people, hurt other people.
Your bae, your BFF, or your parent was simply giving you what they had to offer: pain. They were loving you out of their own dysfunction.
Go back and think about what may have happened in their life to put them on this path.
Is it possible that an Ex did the same thing to them and they never took the time to heal? Is it possible that they were rejected by parents who were supposed to love them, but instead chose to abandon or abuse them?
So, each time you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself, you should probably be feeling sorry for them.
5. Pray for them. You have to be extremely talented to pray for someone and hate them at the same time. It’s just not possible.
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28
But, while you’re praying for their healing and their success, God is doing the same for you. He’s allowing you to reap what you sow into others. And if when you’re able to sincerely go to God on their behalf, you’ll know for sure that you’re on the path to forgiveness.
And it feels much better than holding on to the dysfunction that caused you so much pain. Wouldn’t you agree?