By: Tim Gilleand, M.A.
When we are hurt, upset, or angry we sometimes feel as though we have three options for dealing with these emotions. The first is revenge, “they hurt me; I’ll hurt them back.” The problem with revenge is it throws us into a never-ending cycle of hurt. The second option is probably the most popular, and that is to learn to live with the pain. We find ways to push it to the side, pretending it doesn’t exist, and numb ourselves from it in the process. The problem with ignoring your pain is it becomes like blowing air into a balloon – inevitably the balloon stretches too thin and it bursts, causing a bigger problem than you had originally. The final option for dealing with anger or hurt is the only one that breaks the chain, but it’s also the hardest – forgiveness.
Five Reasons Forgiveness Matters:
- Hurt people hurt people. Do you react the way your mother or father did, and their mother and father before them? Has this pattern existed for generations? It’s time to end it, and by doing so you change the future for you and your family.
- Your anger sabotages your future. Some believe they cannot forgive, that they need to keep a wall of protection up around them. I believe both can work hand in hand. Forgiveness and boundaries, when implemented together, are critical ingredients for healing.
- Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is choosing to treat someone better than they deserve. You probably won’t forget the wrong that occurred, and that’s okay.
- Forgiveness is for you. The person who caused you pain is likely not as affected by the incident as you. If you hang on to the anger, you’re the one still hurting. Forgiveness is for you to be able to move on from the pain.
- Most importantly, we forgive because we are forgiven. God showed us a kindness when we didn’t deserve it by dying for our sins and forgiving us, so that we can do the same for others. Someday we will stand before Him and give an account for our lives and I have a feeling forgiveness will be a part of that discussion.
So How Does One Forgive?
Our therapists and coaches at Crosswinds are ready to help you embark on that journey. We can help you transform personally into a lifestyle of forgiveness. This transformation will include admitting your own weaknesses, setting boundaries, and preparing mentally. Forgiveness will then occur internally before externally. As a therapist, there are times I can spend up to half my week working on forgiveness issues with clients. It is that big of a deal, and makes a very big difference.
Some elements adapted from Timothy Lane’s “Pursuing and Granting Forgiveness” (2005). The Journal of Biblical Counseling.