I hope that one day I’ll be able to forgive him, but I just can’t do it right now.
I’ve been there.
I have felt myself drowning in overwhelming waves of hurt, betrayal, and anger. I’ve been engulfed by shame and loneliness, even when the storm that was raging around me wasn’t my fault. I felt so alone in my broken marriage, and desperately wished to feel whole again. It wasn’t until I learned to forgive that I discovered that this was how I could save myself from being pulled under, and ultimately drowning in my broken heart.
We’ve all heard the sayings about forgiveness:
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.
It’s the fragrance of a flower after it is crushed.
Forgive your enemy, but don’t forget his name.
It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? But what we don’t hear is that forgiveness is HARD. Forgiveness is painful. Sometimes the journey to forgiveness, growth, and healing feels as agonizing as the hurt in the first place. Especially when they were the person you trusted more than anyone, someone who was supposed to love, honor, cherish, and protect you – and they betrayed that trust.
I realized something one day as I watched my boys play. Do you remember swinging on the monkey bars at the playground as a child? Forgiveness is very much like making your way across those bars, from one side to the other. Forgiving someone who hurt you deeply is one of the biggest decisions you will ever face because it requires you to let go. You have to let go of what is behind you in order to move forward.
Think back again to those monkey bars. What happened at recess when you started reaching out for something ahead of you, and also didn’t want to let go? Your palms got sweaty, your arms grew weak, and it felt like you couldn’t hold yourself up for one more second. You were stuck. And then you fell to the ground.
But what happens when you get back up, brush the sand off your knees, and keep trying over and over again? You let go of what what was behind you, and you keep reaching forward. Eventually you develop little callouses on your hands, you get stronger, and you will get there. Letting go of the past so you can move forward – it’s the only way across.
There are times on this journey that you will feel paralyzed by the hurt, abuse, loneliness, or shame that you have been through. This, my dear friend, is completely normal. Remember when I said that this is one of the hardest things you’ll ever face? It is, but I can say to you with all of my heart that it is worth every bit of the struggle.
Can I tell you something? I wish that I could go back in time for each and every one of you and take away this hurt. As desperately as we might wish it – there is absolutely nothing that we can do to change the past. But I have the most amazing news for you – You can absolutely change the course of your future.
Yes, some horrible and inexcusable things have happened, but we don’t have to stay crippled by the pain. We don’t have to be stuck for the rest of our lives as the victims. Forgiveness is not giving them power over you, but you are actually taking power away from them – the power to keep hurting you over and over again.
You see, forgiveness really is a gift that you give to yourself – a deep and painful gift – but it is the only way to freedom. When you choose to let go and reach forward again and again and again, you are setting yourself free from the pain that bound you to them. When those chains have fallen away from you, it is then that you are free to heal. Those wounds – physical, emotional, verbal, sexual – they will heal. They will always be there, but eventually you will look at the scar tissue and not focus on the pain – but you will be able to see just how far you’ve come.
If there is one thing that I want to leave you with – please know that even though not many talk about it, there are so many of us on this journey together. Please don’t be afraid to reach out. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are loved. You are seen. And you are not alone.
Just keep reaching forward and letting go…
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