Forgiveness shouldn’t be rushed
So often with spiritual and religious people, there can be a rush to forgive the missteps of others. Often, these can be issues that are beyond our human ability to forgive without an extreme amount of self growth. Growth work, I might add, that few people are truly doing.
Forgiveness is not about saying “what you did is forgotten and all is ok now.” Personally, I find the whole idea of “forgive and forget” to be very irresponsible. You should never forget someone is capable of the things they have done in the past. Especially if it was a parent and you have kids.
- Acknowledge what happened. For some people, there is a reluctance to say, “mom abused me” or “dad was overly critical.”. We think if we name it we are placing blame on the parents. Yes, and no. You are acknowledging what really happened, which is still important even if those same people are very kind and loving now.
- Take responsibility for what happened. By taking responsibility, I mean acknowledge that this not so nice thing happened to you and whether it was your fault in any way or not, it’s up to you to fix it. Basically, get counselling if you need it, do growth work, and do the things you need to do to clean up the mess. Take your time to do this work; it’s important.
- Let them go: This is where forgiveness comes in. Which is not about saying “what you did was ok.” It’s not. If it was, you wouldn’t have needed to heal from it. Basically, you are saying “I am no longer going to expect YOU to make it right, and I am going to release MYSELF from the pain and upset of what happened so that we are both free to go in peace.” Know that no matter what your religious beliefs, almost everyone understands that actions have consequences and even when it seems the person got away with it, we can have faith that in the end justice will be served. It doesn’t have to be you who delivers it.
There is such a rush to brush past parts one and two, and skip ahead to saying, “it’s all good.” This is an attempt to avoid pain and conflict, and will result in avoiding the healing work that needs to be done to truly forgive. Jumping ahead to step three doesn’t heal anything, and you will find yourself resentful and still traumatized by the very thing you thought you “forgave”. In the end, the second step is most important. If you never quite get to step three, know that you will be much better off than if you just buried your unhealed wounds in “I forgive you.”
Love yourself enough to do the hard work of healing, you are so worth it.
Jill Thomas CCHT