They say that the people who could hurt us are only those who mean so much to us, such as our partners and significant others. Conflicts between partners are inevitable and may arise from varied reasons – it may be as basic as differences in points of view, or more deeply rooted, such as when promises are broken, a bad habit that can’t be curbed, or hurtful words that are said in the fit of anger. Whatever the reason, when we feel so violated, forgiveness is hard to come by. The time of Lent is an opportunity to reflect on our lives and pray for the grace to forgive. But how does one forgive?
Inspirational author and lay preacher Bo Sanchez stated 4 points on forgiveness in his book “How to Build Happy Families” (Shepherd’s Voice, 2010).
• Clean the Wound. You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know the problem to begin with. You need to honestly look at the relationship and the emotional pain you have. If you have been holding on to issues for the longest time, it means bitterness is eating you up and is getting in the way of forgiveness. Start by assessing the harm to help you to identify what needs to be cleaned and healed.
• Get Angry. We are conditioned not to be angry or to contain unpleasant emotions, but in order to forgive, we need to acknowledge that we are hurt by the wrongdoing. Getting angry does not mean to be hurtful; anger can be and should be expressed in a non-attacking manner. Cry if you wish, talk it over - vent out to people close to you. But realize that anger has a deadline, and that the end goal is for you to move out of it and find a way to forgive.
• Release Anger. After you let yourself be angry, decide to forgive. Forgiveness, like love, is a decision and not just a feeling. It requires a conscious effort to let go of the angst. Ask God for peace to come to you. Know that things may be different now, but this does not mean you can’t start over. As Bo Sanchez stressed, “Forgiveness isn’t necessarily bringing back the relationship to where it was before.” - the most important effect of forgiveness is to make you whole again.
• Forgive for Selfish Reasons. The old saying holds true: “forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.” Once issues in the relationship are gauged, note that there are some things you cannot do anything about. Accept the reality. Let go of things you are not in control of. You are not a repairman and cannot fix your partner’s wrongdoings or bad habits. What you can change, though, is your attitude towards the issue and your manner of dealing with it. Get rid of angst and emotional baggage that impedes the relationship. Forgiveness brings about peace to the forgiver, and you owe that much to yourself.
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