When I met Sara, we had an instant connection. Not only did we enjoy doing a lot of girly things together (shopping, hair, etc.), we had a friendship based on faith. We attended the same church and often discussed the merits of living for God. So imagine my surprise when I found out that she had slept with my boyfriend.
The pain of this knowledge hit me like a poisonous dart. How could she have done this to me? I thought we were friends. I thought we both were trying to live lives filled with integrity. I meditated on these thoughts regularly and broke off the friendship with her and my boyfriend. For a long time, I was angry at both of them. However, through my pain, I realized something important. In spite of what had been done to me, I needed to forgive.
The weight of the anger and hurt was dragging me down. I couldn’t think properly, pray or even enjoy one full day. As a result, I began a journey that I continue today on the art of forgiveness.
It’s been a challenging path for me because I don’t believe it is a natural segment of my strong personality. However, I’ve found it necessary to live a joyful life. Although I’m still a work in progress, I’ve learned a few essential keys that help me forgive others. Now, I am going to share them with you along with a few solutions.
1) Make the act of forgiving a priority in your life. You will never be able to forgive anyone if the act of doing it isn’t important to you. Maybe you feel you have a right to stay angry or it yields you a certain amount of power over a person. Understand that forgiving someone is a way of releasing a burden on your heart. Studies have proven that people who make forgiveness a part of their life are less stressed and happier. Also, if you think about the number of mistakes you make a day and how you want people to treat you, you’ll see that forgiveness is a great gift to give to anyone.
Solution: Talk to a person who practices forgiveness and let them mentor you. Pick a person you can confide in and who is generally interested in helping you. Make sure it’s someone you respect and who will take the time to take you from start to finish through the process of forgiveness. The person just needs to be someone you respect and will guide you through the art of forgiving another person.
2) Don’t rehearse it. If you’re like me, when someone does a horrible deed to you, it’s hard to forget. As a result, you not only tell everyone you know, you also think about it for hours. Unfortunately, this can be a trap. The more you remember, mull over and speak about an issue, the harder it is to get past it.
Solution: Limit the amount of time you speak and think about a misdeed done to you. Tell a good friend and then let it go. Also, when it starts to come up in your mind, deviate from it. Sing a song. Watch a movie. Go for a walk. Pray. What am I saying? Get it off your mind.
3) Don’t let your feelings trick you. A lot of times it’s hard to let go of a hurt because of how you feel. Your heart hurts. Mentally, you’re in pain. You could even feel physically ill. The person in concern really got to you on a deep level. However, although how you feel is vital, it’s not the bottom line. Just as you practice dragging yourself into work or to the gym when you don’t feel like it, you must exercise the same discipline when it comes to forgiveness. Forgive regardless of how you feel.
Solution: When those old feelings come up about a past hurt, don’t rest in them. Remind yourself that you don’t live by your feelings and you can control them. You are a human being, not an animal. You don’t live life based on instincts alone.
In conclusion, the art of forgiving is a talent that will help you live life on a higher level. Practice it on a regular basis and watch how big your heart expands and easier you breathe during the day.