There are few people who arrive at adulthood without the emotional scars of injury inflicted upon them by the careless, hurtful actions of others. Most of us have experienced pain that we did not bring upon ourselves. When this happens, we are often so deeply wounded that we find ourselves holding onto these negative feelings. They become a part of our identity and we start to see ourselves as victims. If we aren’t careful, we will allow those seeds of bitterness to grow. This can cause issues for us emotionally. Depression and anxiety are often the by-products of a heart filled with unforgiveness.
“Why should I forgive? They don’t deserve my forgiveness,” you may say. To that, I would say you are absolutely correct. They do not deserve your forgiveness, but you do deserve the wonderful relief that comes to your heart when you choose to let go of the pain and begin to pursue peace. Forgiveness is not for the benefit of the person who harmed us; it is for our own benefit.
Forgiveness begins with a decision, but it is not a single act. It is a process that may take a lifetime of continual commitment. It is a consistent choice that must be made every time those negative emotions come to the surface tempting us to return to that place of emotional unrest. It is not an easy thing, but it is vital to our own peace of mind.
Forgiving others also does something else that I find amazing. It reminds us that we ourselves have been in need of forgiveness. We have hurt others, and have needed their forgiveness. This realization often allows us the grace we need to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt us. Hurting people hurts others. None of us want to be someone who causes others pain, but this can happen when we become bitter from past hurts. If we choose forgiveness, we are taking back the power of our own emotions. We become free to choose how we feel, rather than being controlled by negativity. Forgiveness is a powerful thing, and it is a gift we give ourselves.