What is it in your past that’s holding you back from peace, from moving on, from saying sorry, or from forgiving either yourself or someone else?
The truth is, we all have a past. Things you might take back if you could. Words you spoke that hurt someone. Regrets. Bad decisions that may have brought worse repercussions.
Perhaps your past has a chapter of abuse or some other kind of trauma that you have yet to heal from or you’ve shoved it down so deep below the surface, too scared to face it, that you forget it happened most days, until those random times the memories are triggered.
Maybe your past affects your day-to-day life. Your parenting. Your marriage. Your relationships. As hard as you’ve tried to rise above or put it behind you, it persists in weighing you down.
A relationship that went south. A betrayal. Someone took advantage of you. Someone broke your trust, your heart, or you broke theirs. Maybe it was any one of these things or something else.
Here’s the thing you need to know. Not one of us are perfect. Over your lifetime you will hurt someone and someone will hurt you. If you’re like me, these 2 scenarios will be played out endlessly.
Letting go of your past and moving on may mean saying sorry. Maybe you have deep regret about something and you haven’t been able to apologize. Maybe fear of rejection or your own pride has held you back. Maybe saying sorry would mean admitting you were wrong and that’s not an easy pill to swallow. Maybe you believe you did nothing wrong. Perhaps you haven’t been able to self reflect or you’ve pushed the conflict way down deep because the pain you caused is just too hard to feel. But you will not be able to move on from your past if you don’t say sorry and ask for forgiveness.
What can be even harder than asking for forgiveness? Giving it. It can take years sometimes but forgiving yourself or forgiving others is an important step to letting go of your past. No, it’s not easy. Either way you need to go, whether looking inward or forgiving someone else, it’s down right difficult. Many times painful.
What does God say about forgiveness?
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. ” Colossians 3:13
And let’s say this person you must forgive was horrible to you. Perhaps they hurt you more than any other person on the face of the earth ever has. Maybe you have zero intention of ever speaking to them or connecting with them again. Sometimes cutting ties is the best thing, and I really do believe that. I believe that just as God calls us to forgive, he also calls us to guard our hearts and our well-being. He gave us sound minds and the wisdom to discern between good and evil. Maybe this person who you want nothing more to do with, to forgive them would be to forgive the unforgivable.
But can I tell you a hard truth? Harder than hard. Ready? You will not be able to move on with your life, really and truly move on, until you forgive them. You don’t have to like the act of forgiving them. Forgiving them does not need to be offered face to face, over the phone or through any form of communication whatsoever.
It can be an inner gift that you give to yourself. That’s right, to YOURSELF. You don’t have to even let them know. Because the key is this; you don’t forgive them for them. You forgive them for you. By forgiving them or forgiving yourself, you are simply releasing yourself from the continued suffering, the baggage, the pain, the bad head-space, the anxiety and stress of seeing them if this is someone still in your life, the broken heart. The negative feelings about yourself if you’re the one you need to forgive. The endless cycle of playing the scenario on repeat in your head. Know what I mean?
Forgiveness can also be the opening of a door to new life in relationships. To new beginnings. Forgiveness can open up conversations that also come with apologies and remorse that bring with them second chances and a beautiful new story, maybe even one with the happiest ending imaginable.
Sometimes though, putting the past behind you means having to forgive someone without receiving an apology. For years I believed that by offering forgiveness I was doing some great big favor for whoever would receive it. Like I was saying that by forgiving, I was also saying that what they did was okay. That I wasn’t mad or hurt or worse, damaged by it. But this isn’t the case. You’re not saying it’s okay. You’re saying to yourself, “I refuse to carry this any longer.” Your standing up for your own well-being.
It wasn’t until I was faced with forgiving the unforgivable, without an apology, that I learned what forgiveness really meant. I had thought that forgiveness meant unlocking the door and setting them free, until I realized that actually, I was the prisoner. Once I chose to forgive, I was really releasing myself, not them.
If you have been wronged then forgiving, and only by doing so, are you able to set yourself free and move on. Without this important step, you will carry your past with you forever. This will affect your mind, your soul and your health. The same goes for saying sorry.
So please, for your own sake, do yourself this favor, and repeat after me;
“I forgive ______________ so that I may release myself and be free. In doing so, I am giving myself the gift of healing and moving on. I have endured enough pain and I value myself too much to let that which has caused hurt, affect me any longer. I forgive because I am forgiven. I am free of this burden and can now move on. “
“____________, I am sorry for how I hurt you. I have taken the time to think about my actions and I realize now how this must have affected you. I am truly sorry. I have learned from this experience and repented and I hope that you too will be able to forgive me. “
Now, here’s the really beautiful thing. The reward at the end of the dark tunnel…..