Has someone ever hurt you so badly that you just can’t muster the power to forgive them? As a domestic violence victim, I was shoved, hit, and sexually and emotionally abused by my partner. Perhaps you’ve been through a similar situation, and are hanging onto a lot of pain and anger. If that’s the case, it may come as a surprise to you that I no longer feel any hate or resentment towards my abuser. I’ve learned to forgive.
The purpose of forgiveness isn’t to let someone ‘off the hook’. Whenever you hate someone, they still exert power over you. The power of forgiveness is an amazing thing. To forgive is to be extricated from the emotional ties and negativity holding you back.
I’ll admit that to forgive someone who has hurt you is probably the very last thing you feel like doing. You probably feel more like giving them a nice serving of knuckle sandwich, washed down with a piece of your mind. There was a time when I felt as though I couldn’t ever forgive my abusive partner. If you feel like that right now, that’s perfectly okay. Anger is a normal emotion. If you’re angry, don’t deny your feelings. Scream. Cry. Sprint up a hill a few times. Punch your pillow if you need to. Do whatever you need to do to express your anger, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.
Forgiveness is a process. The trick to doing it effectively is identifying the appropriate time to move on after allowing yourself to vent. Premature forgiveness while neglecting to acknowledge your true feelings will cause residual anger to bubble to the surface later. Conversely, prolonging your anger will cause it to fester into hatred and eat away at you.
How much difference do you make to your abuser’s life by hating them? The answer is absolutely none. They aren’t mind readers, so how could it possibly affect them? Meanwhile, if you think hateful thoughts, you’re poisoning your own mind with negativity. Hate destroys the vessel in which it is stored.
Choosing to forgive someone does not make you a weak character. In fact, it takes strength of character to truly forgive someone. Forgiveness does not imply you condone someone’s behaviour. It’s very easy to point your finger at someone else and blame them for your problems and how you feel. It’s much harder to take a good, hard look at yourself, take responsibility for your own feelings and actions, and identify what got you into the situation in the first place.
As I look back on my experience, I can see a cross road in my life path representing two choices. The first represents the choice to hate. It’s the easy path, but it leads to a life filled with resentment, anger, bitterness, and cynicism. The second path represents forgiveness. This path embraces responsibility, acceptance, happiness, and love. Forgiveness is the harder path to follow, but the personal power learning to forgive brings into your life is well worth the extra mile.
So, which path are you going to choose?
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