I think it is fair to assume that we all have had numerous experiences throughout our lives that have required us to forgive or to be forgiven. These experiences happen on a daily basis. Life is full of mistakes. But no matter how much experience we have had with forgiveness, our understanding of it still seems to be flawed; especially when it comes to the more serious offenses. We get blinded by the pain caused by adultery, theft, betrayal, lies, selfish acts, domestic violence and other major mistakes, and forget what forgiveness is really all about. In our anger and heartache we often start to believe the lies our minds tell us.
Here are seven of those lies about forgiveness you may have started to believe.
1. Forgiveness is something to be earned
If you are holding back forgiveness because your offender has not earned it yet, stop it. That is not how it works. Forgiveness is not something that can or should be bought or earned. It is more a gift to yourself than it is to the person that has wronged you. Forgiveness frees you from anger and hatred that poisons your soul.
2. Forgiving means forgetting
If you can forget an offense made against you, great. However, do not think that the inability to forget means you cannot forgive. Some things are impossible to erase from our memories no matter how hard we try.
3. Forgiveness requires resolution
Resolution, revenge, reconciliation — all of these are not required for forgiveness. There are some conflicts that will never be resolved the way you would like them to be. True forgiveness should be given with or without an apology and efforts to correct a wrong done to you.
4. Forgiving removes all consequences
No matter how much we wish it would, forgiveness does not change the past. Most of the time people who have made a mistake will have to deal with the consequences whether or not they are forgiven. It is hard to build trust after betrayal. It is difficult to get your life back together when you have torn it apart. Some things have automatic consequences that cannot be prevented.
This is a ridiculous lie. Forgiveness is all about the problem. If you have not faced the issue, then you have not really forgiven.
6. Forgiveness is immediate
Don't expect to forgive or be forgiven over night. Forgiveness takes time. Forgiveness is a process; and the more serious the offense, the longer the process. Do not feel like you have to rush it in order to forgive.
7. Forgiveness is for the other person
As was said above, forgiveness is a gift to the person forgiving. Forgiveness is first and foremost for you and you alone. Yes, some people like to feel the peace of being forgiven by someone they have hurt. It helps ease guilt. However, the horrible feeling of guilt will not leave them until they have truly forgiven themselves. And the anger festering inside you will not go away until you truly forgive your offender.
Above all, remember that forgiveness is a tool for healing. There is plenty of hurt in this world. Broken hearts are all around us. The only way to truly mend them is through the gift of forgiveness. Of course, forgiveness will not fix everything, but it will help far more than any plan of revenge or oath to keep a never-ending grudge. Forgiveness brings peace and love back into your life.
If you are currently struggling to forgive someone, or find yourself in need of forgiveness, look out for these seven common lies. It is very easy to believe them when your heart and mind are troubled. Remember that forgiveness takes time. Keep trying. The peace is worth it.