Sometimes we tend to carry on with resentment in our hearts after we claimed to have moved on and found forgiveness. The sad reality is that the harvesting of negative feelings toward someone is not forgiveness at all. In fact, it is the sign that you have not moved on and that you are still holding on to negative feelings. Those negative feelings become a burden and you need to unpack those feelings for your own well-being.
Forgiveness is a tricky concept for many people to understand and grasp. I, myself, still struggle with the concept. In one hand, you want to forgive the person who has wronged you, but there is always that desire to protect oneself from future heartache. We all know of the saying: “I’ll forgive you, but I’ll never forget”. However, that saying is contradictory to the sole purpose of forgiveness, which is to forget and make anew. So, how do you learn to forgive someone while protecting oneself from future disappointment?
I don’t know the answer to that, but it has sparked a conversation in my mind and hopefully on this blog.
How do you know if you’ve forgiven someone?
Do you treat them the same or do you have reservations? Again, if you say you’ve forgiven someone then you have also made amends right? Then, the scarred relationship should be restored and there should be an agreement that such action or inaction should not occur again. Accordingly, the relationship should be restored and there should not be any limitations on the relationship. In essence, you are agreeing that the incident does not have a stronghold on the nature and depth of the relationship moving forward because you have forgiven. You are free to be yourself and trust them to respect your boundaries and limitations. We all know that’s easier said then done.
Do you trust them? If you no longer trust the person who has harmed you then you have not forgiven the person and you may have even loss the relationship. Because true and genuine forgiveness places you in a vulnerable state, it is important that you can trust the person who has wronged you. If you no longer trust the person who has wronged you, then have you really moved on and forgiven?
Does the person who has wronged you share your understanding of forgiveness? There is an unspoken rule that forgiveness is a two-way street. Have you considered that forgiveness has less to do with the person and more to do with oneself? Sometimes, we expect everyone involved to be apologetic and that is not necessarily the case. To forgive someone requires only one person to take action. You. It is a choice that you make. Regardless of the response another person gives you. Forgiveness is like a backpack weighed down with bricks. The bricks were placed in your bag by someone else and you have been carrying it along with you. Until one day, you decide to talk to the person who put the bricks in your backpack. The person can either help you remove the bricks or you can remove it yourself. REMEMBER this: YOU CAN REMOVE THE BAGGAGE YOURSELF. Yes, it’s preferred that the person who has packed your bag will help you unpack, but sometimes, they will not. However, that does not take away your power to unpack.
Have you played out your limits and boundaries effectively? Be no one’s fool. I write that in all seriousness. Carrying a heart of forgiveness does not require you to be floor mat. In fact, forgiveness requires you to be resilient. Moving past heartache will require you to set limits and boundaries to protect yourself and new relationships. There is a difference in protecting yourself by setting limits and boundaries vs. holding a grudge against a person for their previous actions. Find that happy medium and set your boundaries. Do not be afraid to speak your mind. Sometimes people hurt us because they were not aware of our sensitivities. Be mindful that some people don’t even know what they did or said was hurtful unless you tell them.
As I conclude this post, I find myself asking myself even more questions, but the more pressing question that won’t escape me: how far have I carried bricks someone else placed in my backpack when I could have easily taken them out myself?