To Forgive or Not to Forgive?

To forgive or not to forgive? Is that really the question?

How about:

To be at peace or to be in pain and suffering? That is the real question!

I think some of the saddest words I ever hear are when someone says: “I’m never going to forgive them for the pain they caused me.” You might be saying those aren’t sad, they’re powerful! They clearly show who’s in control and a real strong determination to not let a wrong doing and wrong doer go unnoticed and unpunished. That justice and fairness are being served. That it’s only right that they suffer even worse pain than they caused you and that they’ll get it by you not forgiving them.

But I ask you: Who is really suffering? Who is the one in pain? Who is actually being punished?

When we refuse to forgive another it is not the person we refuse to forgive that suffers, experiences pain and is justly punished. It is ourselves!

Yes! When we withhold forgiveness…we suffer, we experience pain, and we punish ourselves by giving away our own peace. By choosing not to forgive, we allow someone and something else to destroy and hold hostage our peace. We cannot truly be at peace within ourselves when we are withholding love from another.

We have all been wronged by someone at some point and will be again and again, many times in our lifetime actually. It’s part of living as humans and having relationships with other humans.  And I’m not saying that when we forgive someone that we completely forget what they did. Neither that by forgiving do we condone the behavior and action of the person. Not at all!

What I am saying is that by holding on to resentment and anger by not forgiving another, we are causing ourselves suffering and pain. Forgiveness isn’t for the other person, forgiveness is for ourselves.

When we hold on to a resentment of something that someone did in the past, we are allowing ourselves to live in the past. When we live in the past, we cannot be fully present in the NOW which is all we truly have to live. We can’t be experiencing real joy in the moment, if we’re still tethered to a painful one in our past. So let go. Let love in. Choose to forgive. Make a conscious decision to remember only the good and loving things that a person said or did to you and let go of all the rest. It doesn’t need to be your burden to carry. There will be a judgement made by a just and loving God in the end, let Him handle that part, don’t deny yourself the peace and love that you can have by choosing not to forgive.

Besides, often the other person may or may not even recognize or be aware of or care that they did something to wrong you. So how is not forgiving them going to cause them to suffer more intensely? If they don’t even know or feel bad for what they’ve done? You cannot control what another person does and how they feel and respond to things. You can only control what you do and how you respond to things.

If someone does recognize their wrongdoing towards you and fesses up to it and asks for your forgiveness…whether or not you choose to give it to them, they’ve already released most of their pain and suffering and have brought peace into their lives by owning and atoning for their actions. And yes I’ve heard people say things like:  “I don’t deserve forgiveness for what I’ve done” or “I understand if you can’t forgive me now” but these too are statements and sentiments that destroy and deny peace in our lives. We are all worthy of and deserving of forgiveness. Including being forgiving of ourselves.

“Peace isn’t determined by circumstances outside us. Peace stems from forgiveness. Pain doesn’t stem from the love we’re denied by others, but rather from the love that we deny them.”

—Marianne Williamson

So if you ever question if you should forgive or not forgive…I would invite you instead to ask if you want peace or if you want pain and suffering. But it’s not that easy you might be saying. I can’t just choose to let go of such a hurtful thing that someone did to me. I know it isn’t always easy and sometimes it may take some time. But truly it is as easy as making a conscious choice and deciding if you want peace or if you want pain.

Now remember I’m not saying that by forgiving you are being loving and accepting of a behavior but you are being loving and accepting of a person, of a brother, sister, or friend, another human being and eternal soul… created for the giving and receiving of love and forgiveness and peace just as you yourself are. The judgments and consequences of wrongful actions will come themselves to those deserving of them in life and if not they will by God. So leave all of that heaviness and deciding up to God and the universe and let go and let yourself be at peace.

Just as we are often wronged by others, we too will on occasion wrong others, whether we know it or not, and don’t we want to be forgiven and given peace?! Although it may not sound or seem easy to forgive… it’s actually a lot harder and more painful to hold on to resentment and anger than it is to let go and invite peace and joy. So instead of uttering or feeling those sad words of: “I’m never going to forgive them for the pain they caused me.” Choose to replace it instead with: “I’m always going to forgive so that I can be at peace.”

What things or people are you allowing to hold hostage your peace by not forgiving? What can you do to let go, forgive and choose peace and love?

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