Peace of Mind: Forgiveness

The other day, someone called me a “pushover” just because I forgave someone too quickly. Without getting into much detail about it, if I hadn’t had the ability to forgive that person, or to let it go, then I’d be the one with the problem. For instance, I truly believe this person did not realize what they had said - or it was just something that normally flew out of their mouth from time to time. If you look at it like this - say I don’t forgive this person - this person walks away and never thinks about the “offense”, while I sit there brewing maybe for days, weeks or even months. Maybe I’ll have it in the back of my head for life. You never know. For me, once I forgive someone, it’s forgotten. This same person who called me a “pushover” also brought up an argument I had with a mutual friend. She asked, “What happened that time when ‘so & so’ started in with you?” I sat there...thinking...thinking and thinking. I truly had forgotten. Don’t get me wrong, forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation or salvaging the friendship/relationship. It’s the ability to let really let go.

Even in relationships and marriages, you can tell if someone still has a chip on their shoulder, or if they still have resentment in their hearts if they bring up old crap in the past that they have already “forgiven” you for. If you keep talking about it you let the offense live. You give it life and it never goes away unless you bury it, or just put it in a bag and shoot it. Having resentment and bitterness doesn’t hurt the other person, it hurts the person who is still angry. I went through it without realizing it. I would say “I forgive you” and then would talk about what had happened to friends over and over. So there is truth to the saying, “forgive and forget”. Someone asked if I had heard from a particular someone from my past who had deeply hurt me. I looked at her puzzled, as my mind even searched for the name of the person. Then I said, “Oh wow, no.” And honestly, I only remember bits and pieces, if anything at all regarding that conflict. I let it go a long time ago. And if I truly dig deep enough to remember these events (which I did because I was curious), I just had this feeling like, what a waste of energy and raw negative emotions that probably affected both our health. I remember the first day of the process of letting go. I prayed for this person continually so that they would have peace, happiness and love. And little by little, I regained my own peace back as well --- without even letting this person know I had done this.

In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter came up to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? (Offends or hurts him) Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” I know many people will say you can’t keep getting pushed around so to speak, but what that scripture implies is, sometimes when you absolutely have to have someone in your life, whether it be a co-worker, family member, a life-long friend, it’s important to accept the flaws, quirks or unintentional offenses (even if intentional) in order to make peace not only with them and the people around you, but for yourself. It’s the ability to understand how this particular person works. Know what upsets them or what can set them off. I know some people in my life accept me and forgive me time after time for my quirks, and for that, I’m very grateful. I’m not perfect, but I’m very fortunate to have family and friends who know me well enough. I can come out of my face sometimes with random ‘offenses’ that aren’t intentional. And there are times where I get too offended over something and completely walk away from the person or situation, which to them seems as though I’m unforgiving and “mean” in some cases. I’m working on it. I was told that when someone offends you or, perhaps verbally abuses you, to completely walk away from that person. She said, “Silence is the best communicator.” But to me, silence gives a tinge of resentment in a way. I took her advice for about a month with someone and it hurt me more than it hurt the other person. Of course, it totally depends on the situation, however if you truly want this person in your life, silence probably isn’t the best communicator. Sometimes talking it out and completely giving the relationship another shot is a great way to overcome bitterness. Staying silent in some cases hardens your heart.

I truly believe we’re never going to get the best advice - it’s all about what works for each individual. I know people mean well when they’re trying to help, but when you look at the bigger picture, like, will this affect me six months from now, perhaps a year from now -- that’s when you gain a better perspective on the situation. Do you still want that person in your life and if not, can you rid of the bitter and resentment so that you can have peace yourself? Forgiveness isn’t always about forgiving the other person - it’s about giving yourself peace of mind.

Another important reason for me, is this scripture:

Mark 11:25 says, "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

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