The Gift of Forgiveness
Are there people in your life that harmed you at one time or another that you haven’t forgiven? What’s stopping you? Perhaps you feel they don’t deserve forgiveness. Usually, that builds a wall of resentment forgiveness can’t penetrate. That’s dangerous. I once heard resentment is like taking poison yourself and hoping the other person dies.
By creating barriers to forgiving others, we keep our wounds open. In fact, each time we think of the offending incident, we infect those wounds by allowing resentment, anger, and feelings of injustice to rise up in us. The irony is that it’s unlikely that the offenders are aware of or even remember their offenses against us. So instead, we’ve taken their acts of harm and now use them to continue harming ourselves.
Close the chapter of unforgiven wrongdoings in your life. For your own healing, take steps to forgive those that haunt. It may be difficult. Perhaps the offender has died or is no longer part of your life. Maybe you don’t know how to approach the topic directly. Then just do what you can with what you have and where you are.
Say a prayer of forgiveness for them. Or write a letter detailing how you were injured and express your desire to let it go by forgiving them. Finally, consider if you played any part in what led to the offense against you. If you find something, forgive yourself. And at the end of your journey toward forgiveness, you will find the gift it holds for you.
David Crawford, retired Creighton University archivist, expresses it this way:
"Forgiveness yields immense benefits. Recognize that being able to forgive fully and completely is not a burden; it is a blessing. When we are able to forgive, we are freed from feelings and forces that harm us and those around us. We can let go of anger, hatred, bitterness, hurt, even judgmental self-righteousness. Letting go frees us from those pains (and from the chore of keeping count), and it allows us to change our focus away from what was done to us so that we can recall the many good things done for us. You may not feel that the person who offended you deserves to be forgiven—but you deserve the blessing of being able to forgive."
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