Forgiveness is hard

But you deserve it

Forgiveness has been a topic heavy on my mind this week as many personal issues in my life have come to a head. Family drama, relationship drama, work drama and to top it all off, I am sure I don’t have to tell my dear readers midterms are approaching. 

Overall, I would say this week my stress has been sky high and as much as I would love to turn the opinion section into my own personal diary, I don’t think that it would be constructive in helping me solve any of my problems. 

The universal truth of life is that people are going to hurt your feelings. Sometimes it’s surface-level snide comments. Sometimes it’s soul-deep wounds that leave you with lasting mental health issues and struggling to cope when people make their small cuts. 

I know that my feelings have been hurt plenty of times. I know that the last five years of my life have been a personal journey of forgiveness. I have had to forgive friends when they have said hurtful things; had to forgive my parents when they made a lapse of judgment and to forgive peoples when their mistakes ended up changing my life.

After all, I certainly wouldn’t be living in Fargo if it wasn’t for the people who wished to see me fail. 

A lot of people when they talk about forgiveness neglect to mention how hard it is. It’s incredibly difficult and I find it hardest when people hurt the ones you love. It’s possible though. 

To be able to forgive we need to clearly define it. Wikipedia defines forgiveness as “the intentional and voluntary process by which one who may initially feel victimized, undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding a given offense and overcomes negative emotions such as resentment and vengeance.” 

To be able to forgive you need to want to forgive. This week I had the epiphany that the only person who was really suffering because of my work conflict was me. Even though I wasn’t the one who had done wrong. I was the one losing sleep. I was the one whose job performance was suffering, not them. 

Truly, I am just ready to stop feeling like garbage all the time. The anger, hate and bitterness are not only emotionally draining but it’s counterintuitive to how I believe I am supposed to be as a Christian woman. Starting this forgiveness process that week has been me just admitting I don’t want to feel that way anymore.

A lot of people also think that forgiveness means forgetting and letting people walk all over you and that isn’t true. It simply means that you aren’t letting the actions of others dictate how you get to feel for the rest of your day. 

From there, it’s up to you how you want to go about forgiving. For me, I know I have forgiven someone when I no longer wish them harm. Not even physical harm, harm in terms of me feeling disappointed when they get a promotion. 

It’s me not being angry when I see them have a happy moment. Just simply being able to go about my day with the person who hurt me not being a part of my thought process is a huge victory. 

Something that speeds along the forgiveness process is being able to see things from others’ perspectives. My friend Eve always called this tactic “putting on your perspective glasses.”

If you are able to visualize the reasons someone may have responded the way they did, then it can help us feel compassion for them. Obviously, this isn’t a universal quick and easy forgiveness check. It doesn’t apply to all experiences either. But it has helped me out especially in my fights with friends. 

Finally, and this is the hardest part, recognize the role you have played in causing there to be distance and conflict with the person who is trying to forgive. I can confidently say it wasn’t my fault when at 14 we moved from Alaska. But when I have gotten into fights with friends, coworkers, my boyfriends, they may have snapped at me because I said something hurtful or I was pushing too hard on certain issues.

Recognizing that the role we play in others’ lives isn’t always positive is hard. Does that make the other party’s actions acceptable? No, but it sure is easier to come to a resolution when we are able to admit to our own failings and try to do better. 

In no way shape or form have I forgotten the people that hurt me. I can still picture their faces. I still imagine what life would be like if they had chosen differently. I still deal with some of the anxiety that resulted from those situations. We are just human. 

But we start to forgive when we remember that the people that hurt us are smaller in significance than a single grain of rice compared to all that we can achieve. If we want they can be another ring in our ladder to the top. We start to forgive when we realize our relationship with the person we are fighting with is more important than what we fought about.

Truly I tell you, the best vengeance is living well.

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