Forgiveness February – What is forgiveness anyway?
This morning I was laying in bed thinking about the new month, February. I was thinking about doing a fitness challenge this month but as I lay there under my warm blankets I thought of another challenge, challenge that, for me, is much harder than any sort of fitness goal but one that reaps benefits far greater: forgiveness.
The word forgiveness usually brings up religious connotations but, religious or not, I think we will all agree that forgiveness is an important aspect of happiness and being able to experience life to the fullest. After all no one is perfect and we have all been hurt or have hurt someone else at some point of our lives.
What is forgiveness?
The Free Dictionary defines forgive as
Notice the definition doesn’t say to “forget” a fault or an offense? Sometimes I think we confuse forgiveness with forgetfulness. I know I do. Sometimes I think since I haven’t forgotten it means I haven’t forgiven.
Sure it would be great to “forget” but, the fact is, forgetting is not always possible. There are some offenses that may leave lifelong scars but those scars do not have to define who we are or our emotions.
Forgiveness is also not “condoning” another person’s actions. We forgive people (or ourselves) because they have wronged us. By forgiving someone we aren’t saying that their choice was right, we are saying, “You have hurt me but I’m choosing to let go of the anger and resentment I have towards you.”
Forgiveness is magical but it’s not always instant. I say magical because forgiveness opens us up to emotional freedom but sometimes we have “let go” again and again and again. Just because you can’t forgive instantly doesn’t mean you have failed. It’s means you are human.
We can forgive people of material things, i.e. physical “debts”, but we often, perhaps even more, need to release people of unmet expectations. I’m sure many of us, myself included, have been let down by a friend or family member who didn’t meet our expectations. On the flip-side, I know I have hurt or let others down, and I’m grateful for the forgiveness that has been shown to me.
However, forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to continue in the relationship. Some relationships are so toxic that it’s better for you (and them) to remove yourself from the relationship. Admittedly, it can be hard to know when a relationship reaches that level of toxicity and if you are unsure it might be wise to seek out help from a respected friend or even an professional. Sometimes it can be hard to see clearly from the center of a storm but once that storm passes forgiveness will bring the calm we crave.
When we choose to forgive, not only do we release others but we release ourselves from an emotional/spritual cage because ultimately, unforgiveness hurts and traps us more than anyone else.
What does forgiveness mean to you? Do you find it hard or easy to forgive?
Hugs and High Fives,
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