Forgiveness is Freedom
by Rev. Dr. Karen Turek, D.D.M.S., Ph.D.
Forgiveness does not mean condoning hurtful behavior, but it does involve the tricky act of letting go of the past. Resentment literally means to re-feel or feel again… and again. It saps our energy and allows us to be controlled by another whether they are alive or have made their transition into their next expression of life. Our unwillingness, or inability, to forgive someone that we feel has wronged us attaches us more to the pain of not having closure in a bruised or fractured relationship.
Forgiveness work is not a weak or passive act, it is a conscious step toward freedom. There is an old saying, “We do not forgive others because they deserve it, we forgive because we deserve it.” As we all know, the act of forgiveness cannot be forced but once achieved, forgiveness offers the freedom to release and heal the burdened heart. Forgiveness will not change the past, but it will assuredly change the present, and possibly the future, forever.
With that in mind, I am often asked if there is anything we can do to make peace with less-than-perfect relationships even after a loved one dies? I believe that “yes” there are in fact several ways to release yourself from the grip of unforgiveness. One very solid tool is scribing letters, that you do not send, to people who have hurt you—alive or passed on. It can be liberating to organize your thoughts and express your feelings on paper. Knowing the letter is not actually going to be sent, we give ourselves complete freedom to express raw emotions and let go of self-destructive energy.
Unforgiveness, is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It is self-defeating, especially if the person has already died. We are not held by the precedence of the past, only to the actions that we give power. Going over and over a particular incident, or incidents, for the sake of justifying that it hurt you only serves to get you stuck in the past and gives power to your pain. Unfortunately, the wound/unforgiveness often becomes the defining characteristic of your less than perfect relationship. Remember even difficult relationships most likely have a few good parts. Focusing on the good helps in the forgiveness process.
So, the next time an old wound surfaces or a new one appears, I encourage you to consider the many advantages of forgiveness and the freedom that you deserve.
Peace and Freedom!