#Askingforafriend: Do I need to forgive people who have wronged me?

By Nate Bowman
GCU Office of Student Care
#Askingforafriend

Forgiveness can be a bit confusing. It can feel like a weak, passive undertaking that minimizes pain and excuses hurtful behavior. But all you really want to do is get even … right?

Consider what happens when someone hurts us or when life doesn’t go the way we want.

When we are lied to, cheated on, cut off, abandoned or shamed, a grievance begins to take shape. In the same way, when a loved one dies of cancer, when you don’t get into that degree program you’ve been working so hard to get into, or when it starts pouring rain at your outdoor wedding, a grievance begins to take shape.

Whatever the grievance, forgiveness invites us to acknowledge our losses and hurts. And that might take awhile.

For example, consider the person who has just found out that their partner has been cheating on them. At that moment, life isn’t going the way they would like it to go. I would not expect this person to respond to the news by saying, “Oh well, I’m over it.” In fact, if they did respond that way, I would be concerned that they are not acknowledging a hurt or loss.

Now let’s say it has been a few years and this same person continues to swear that they will never forgive their former partner for cheating on them. Are they reaping any benefits from carrying that grudge around? When they tell each new person they meet the story of how they were cheated on, does that bring healing? These kinds of responses to a grievance imprison and embitter a person.

The good news is, it’s not too late to pursue forgiveness. Forgiveness says, “Yes, what they did was wrong. Yes, it hurt. But my story does not have to be dominated by this grievance.” Forgiveness does not excuse the wrongdoing but rather acknowledges it and then invites the person holding the grudge to do something very challenging — change their story.

It’s important to note that forgiveness does not mean you have to rekindle your relationship with the person who wronged you. That is what we call reconciliation. Forgiveness simply allows the person who was wronged to move forward in peace.

Now, it’s possible that the person who was cheated on has thought about what their partner did to them every day since. The goal is to change the story they have been telling themselves and others from one of victimhood to one that is overcoming, goal-oriented or focused on what can be learned.

For example, they might notice, “Wow, I can hold a grudge for a really long time, and I should work on that.” Or maybe they can say, “I was in a relationship because I was seeking love and connection, and even though I was disappointed, I’d like to forgive my ex so that I can enter into my next relationship freely and healthily.”

Forgiveness is a learned skill. Letting go of grudges and rewriting long-held stories takes practice. Start by practicing on things such as traffic mistakes or bad service. This will make it easier for you to stay out of those prisons of anger and bitterness and instead access the peace that forgiveness offers.

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Bible Verse

Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he? (Isaiah 2:22)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/