It may be helpful to consider two things when evaluating your pain.
1) Did I, in any way, contribute to this event and if so, in what way? If I could re-write that portion of time, what would I do differently?
2) Is their reaction or action all about them? In the end, we can only control our reaction to someone. We cannot control their actions. We each carry our own wounds. If you sincerely feel that the event was truly of their making, let them work out their own kinks in their own time. Have peace in knowing that you need not enable and you are not responsible for fixing them. Release your responsibility for making them whole.
You see, it is my belief that we each have our own journey to create, find, and embark upon in this lifetime. As we experience the good and bad, positives and negatives, the contrasts of life, we make choices. As we choose good over bad, we create the space of well-being for not just ourselves, but those around us. And if we choose badly, it may also be good because we will eventually experience the ramifications of our choice. We will learn from the experience and move closer to the goods of life. Yes, it’s actually really about you. You need not take that experience of learning from someone else. It will happen to them when they are ready. Holding on to that pain or grudge will have a detrimental effect on you. That’s why forgiveness is ultimately for you. It does not absolve what they did nor express that ‘it is okay.’ It simply releases you from the pain and anguish of the event. The act of forgiveness is for YOU.
Here are some steps that you might find helpful when choosing to forgive:
1) Write them a letter. Make some time and find a quiet place. Do this letter by hand if possible, not with a computer. Write from the heart. Include your reaction to the event and how it made you feel. Do not elicit blame.
2) Remember a time when you made mistakes and was in need of forgiveness.
3) Pray for them. When Jesus was on the cross he said, “Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do.” If you are not the praying type, simply bless them or wish them well.
4) Let go. I personally like to believe that there is a reason for everything. Understand that there are lessons in all pain and every event. Release your desire to hold on to the pain. It will not serve you.
If you feel that it will bring healing, you may give the letter to person which you seek to forgive. If you have already chosen to remove this person from your life, you may burn the letter. Whichever you choose, release is possible. With a hand on your heart, you can say, “I release the (feelings) associated with this event. I choose to forgive (name) and I bless them.”
Yes, pain can break our hearts wide open, but in doing so it creates the open heart. Living with an open heart can provide richness, beauty and joy beyond our wildest dreams. It is by living with an open heart that we can experience those miraculous moments that truly take our breath away. Do not be afraid to live with an open heart. The very act will bless you many times over.
As the country song goes, “It’s hard to bury the hatchet when you’re holding a chain saw.” Forgiving and letting go means coming to the realization that you are worth it. It means that you understand how people may be a part of your history but not necessarily your destiny.
And know that just because the pain is understandable doesn’t mean that the behavior is acceptable. Don’t be afraid to set healthy boundaries. And if you are going to set them, for God’s sake, keep them. Love yourself enough to maintain a tribe of healthy people.
Be gentle with yourself. Forgiveness takes time. It may not be a ‘one shot deal.’ You may find yourself choosing forgiveness for the same event more than once. Feelings may continue to rise up, but will eventually die down if you make a conscious decision to continue to forgive and let go. Be mindful that it is a choice and elect to move forward. Practice giving with an open heart, refrain from judgement, and decide to live in the present not the past. The present is all there really matters and a gift to be treasured.
In the end, remember that we all have struggles and everyone will in some way, try to carry the burdens and wounds from the past into their present life. With each of us having our own path to forge, choose wisely for yourself and realize that in the end, it may just be true that nothing is unforgivable.