By: Candice Packer, LCSW
Forgiveness. When we hear that word, a lot of time, it raises a lot of emotions in us. Additionally, everyone has a different definition of forgiveness. So what does it really mean? I am going to answer your question with a question of my own. When you think of the hurt that is requiring forgiveness, how intense is it? The only person that can answer that question is you. There are stages of forgiveness and those stages coincide on where you are in your healing process. If you are at the beginning, that is ok. If you are in the middle, that is ok. If you are at the end, that is ok. There is no right or wrong way on how to forgive. Yes, we hear a lot of different stories of how people forgive. The one common denominator of forgiveness is the freedom and lightness that comes with it. “You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.”
Lewis B. Smedes
Let me share an experience with you. When I worked in the Department of Corrections, I did a group on forgiveness with about 10 men who had spent time behind bars for various reasons. I had them write a letter to someone that they needed to ask forgiveness from or to give forgiveness to. After the letter was written, we tied the letters to helium filled balloons, went outside and let them go. At the end, I asked if there was anyone that would be willing to share. I had a young man raise his hand. He stated, “I wrote a letter to my dad asking for his forgiveness for turning out like him. I now realize that I can be my own man and I can control my future and I don’t have to be like my father.” That experience has always stuck with me because it shows that forgiveness is individual and special to that person.
Forgiveness isn’t always easy. And in writing this, it made me think of the well known cliché, “It isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.” For those of you, who have had the experience of going down this path of forgiveness, understand the truth behind that statement. For those of you who are considering doing it, I would encourage you to do so. In my opinion, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. In a quote by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. he said, “Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness.” You got this. You can do it. I have confidence in you. Good luck.