Updated: Oct 2, 2020
Forgiveness is something that can be a perpetual struggle for most people. It certainly has been for me. I have experienced circumstances that have left me bitter, angry, and unwilling to forgive. So how did I get to a place emotionally where I was able to heal from that pain and forgive? I had to face it and walk through it.
Pain can be paralyzing. Pain can be piercing. Pain causes bitterness. Bitterness can cause you to desire revenge. Revenge is kicking at your heels and can cause you to take regrettable action. The road to forgiveness can be a long journey but the destination is a beautiful place to be. It is a choice that you can make but it does take commitment because it is a journey. A journey that cannot be rushed. You have to allow yourself the opportunity to work through all your emotions, the hurt, anger, bitterness, and desire for revenge. Working through each of those emotions can also be intense and long, depending on the depths of the hurt. At some point, the decision has to be made to take the necessary steps to seek and secure freedom from such a negative place. So how do we navigate this journey and reach forgiveness? May I suggest exercise, journaling, screaming, crying, and praying. Yep! These were all just a few of the things that helped me on this journey to forgiveness.
My gym workouts were intense! Unleashing the anger, bitterness, and desire for revenge, unleashing those emotions on to the weight machines. I think I could have bench pressed 200 lbs. if I had the opportunity to do so! Anger gives you Herculean strength! Just kidding but you get the point. I journaled and wrote what was on my heart. So many words landed on to the pages, some of them not so nice but nevertheless, a purging.
I wanted to be comfortable while writing so I purchased a journal that I liked and a few pens. A few pens are important because you may find that as you pour your soul out onto the pages of the journal, you will exhaust the ink in one pen! Screaming, crying, yelling…all awfully hard on the throat but again, a purging. I would suggest that if you are going to utilize this particular form of releasing emotions, you do so in the privacy of your own home or someplace relatively soundproof! Otherwise, you may find yourself in the company of paramedics or those persons in the white coats! Too often we do not allow ourselves to cry that deep “ugly cry” as it has been referred to. Part of healing is purging the pain. Allow yourself to purge the pain. Finally, in the midst, there is always prayer. Sometimes after an episode of crying, screaming, or yelling, what remains is exhaustion. The kind of exhaustion a toddler has after a temper tantrum. What happens next? They usually fall asleep from weariness. Some of my most peaceful prayers, were on the heels of an adult tantrum. It’s almost as though I could hear the voice of God so much more clearly after allowing myself to release so many emotions and feelings. Sometimes, not being sure of what to pray for but still lifting my feelings to God above, I would begin my silent prayers. Prayers have a way of giving you renewed strength, clarity, and guidance on how to navigate your season.
Part of my healing were conversations with the person and their willingness to work through my hurt. That helped to resolve a lot so we both could move forward. Unfortunately, we do not always have the opportunity to have a willing participant on our journey to forgiveness. As a result, we have to let go of expectations. I think perhaps one of the most helpful aspects was not having expectations. Not having expectations of anyone or anything. Understanding that sometimes people can only do what they are capable of doing which may not wind up in the category of what you need. Ephesians 4:31-32 and Mark 11:25 encourages us to release the bitterness and forgive. Easier said than done for most, but doable for most. How will you begin to release?
Photo Credit: Klarque Garrison