The more we get into 2017, the more reasons rise up that demand we walk in forgiveness. It does not take long to scroll through Facebook or other social media to come across spewed hate, along with inappropriate and unnecessary criticism of others’ plights. This then, creates unforgiveness in us; a hardness and justification for anger and rage which keeps us from walking in the forgiveness that is crucial to our own survival. (“…but if ye do not set men free from their trespasses, neither will your Father set you free from your trespasses. Matt. 6:15)
Are you someone who doesn’t forgive easily? Do you find yourself often holding grudges? If so, this can not only be harmful to your health; it can prevent you from living a good life. As noted above, holding on to unforgiveness prevents you from moving forward in your own life. Forgiveness is not just for the other person; actually, it may not be for the other person at all, but it is for YOU. It helps you to let go and move forward in life.
If you are one who struggles with forgiveness, pay close attention to the following to help you learn to forgive and let go:
- Put Yourself in The Other Person’s Shoes:
There is an old saying that admonishes us to ‘walk a mile in another person’s shoes’. When you are quick to judge and hold grudges, take a step back and use this statement to help you try to see what the person you are upset with may be going through. We don’t always know what others may be experiencing. Perhaps there is a fundamental reason they did what they did that made you so upset. Hearing it may be just the thing to take the ‘edge’ off of your anger. I recently read about a woman who had just lost her child in a horrific murder situation. The people who judged her erratic behavior and blasted her for being curt had no clue she was barely holding on. Now, this is not an excuse to treat others inappropriately; however, what it does for us to help us not take it so personally. It’s not always ‘about us’.
- Life is Too Short
Yes, I said it – life is entirely too short to allow someone else that much power over you. You may believe your anger with someone is justified, and it may even be true that they wronged you. But, what happens if you or the person you are angry with suddenly is gone? Especially if it is someone close to you; now you have no way to reconcile. So, when you feel wronged, accept what they did as wrong but then take immediate steps to forgive them. Keep your life full of positive, not negative interactions.
- Holding Grudges Drains Your Energy
It is far easier to love people than it is to hold grudges. When we hold a grudge, it consumes much of our energy. A friend recently told me that she was so busy obsessing over something that happened to her recently that she started getting a headache – it was then she realized she had to talk it out so she could let it go.
There is a saying that refusing to forgive is like eating poison and hoping for the other person to die. It is not a productive use of your energy as it drains you and depletes your mental happiness. Also, when you are consumed in such a manner, you are preventing your body from performing normal tasks, opening yourself up to a lower immune system, inviting viruses and diseases to come your way.
- You Cannot Change What Happened
This is one of the most logical tips to consider. When you focus solely on what people have done, you often ask why they did it, what were they thinking when they did it, and you create scenarios of what you would have done in their place or what they should have done, etc. Because these scenarios will never come to be, they are a waste of time and energy. What’s done is done, and no amount of thinking will change that. If you want to think about something, think about how to move forward through forgiveness.
- Be the Bigger Person
Finally, understand that you can’t change people. What people do to you is on them. So, because you cannot change them, and it’s not worth your energy and mental capacity to obsess over what happened, it just makes sense to be the bigger person by forgiving them. You will experience an inner peace that can lead you to happiness once you do. Harboring resentment will block your happiness which means the other person wins by continuing to take up space in your brain, creating toxic thoughts that will manifest in toxic behavior. The other person will continue to live their lives whether you forgive them or not. You may as well make yourself happy by letting go of what they did to you, forgiving them and opening yourself up to peace.
Hopefully, these tips will be just what you need to fall back on the next time someone rubs you the wrong way or deeply hurts you. Know that it will happen again - that's life - so prepare yourself now by implementing these tips in your life. You can overcome unforgiveness - I believe in you!
Hebrews 12:14a: “Persistently strive for peace with all men…”
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