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A Journey to Forgiveness

I didn’t want to forgive my parents for the physical and mental abuse inflicted on me as a child for the longest time. It took me years of therapy and self-reflection to reach the point that I could even broach the subject to myself. In my mind, forgiveness was condoning their actions. I felt like if I forgave them, they would be vindicated once again and could go about their lives. But, forgiveness is so much more than that, and it took a lot of reading, a lot of praying, and many conversations to get to the point of understanding what forgiveness truly means.

This post will be a bit Bible-heavy because that’s where I turn when I have questions about the mysteries of life. So I want to start with a quote from Mark:

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25

Countless passages say a similar phrase. Forgive to be forgiven, etc. However, what the bible does not tell us is how to forgive. That part of the equation has had me stuck for years until I did a deep dive recently, and the answer practically smacked me in the face.

Forgiveness is not absolving culpability for a past fault—forgiveness is relinquishing any thought of retribution and trusting our heavenly Father to know the best course of action to settle the matter. When I came to that conclusion, with a fair amount of help, I was amazed at how simple forgiveness was. In many stories and ideas about life, you hear that you have to forgive and continue forgiving when people harm us. I thought it was disingenuous to forgive people and let them continue hurting me, but forgiveness is again about not seeking retaliation.

How many times are we supposed to forgive? This is a question that was also asked of Jesus by Peter:

“‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22

Forgiveness is something you must practice in your day to day life. Instead of trying to get even with someone who has wronged you, forgive them by showing mercy and allowing God to be the judge.

One thing that is also important to point out is that you do not have to tolerate being in an abusive or harmful relationship. Jesus laid out the plan on how to deal with this:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take on or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-20

Breaking this down a little bit—Jesus is telling us to confront those who have transgressed against us so that they may have the opportunity to repent for their actions. Give them another chance by bringing along a friend (this also helps with emotional support). Still then, if they have not repented and changed their ways, you tell it to God. Yes, it says the church, but I interpret that as having a conversation with God. If they continue on their path, you are allowed and commanded to cut all contact.

Finding the answer was revolutionary because when you hear about love in the bible and forgiveness, it seems that those tenants are unconditional, but they aren’t. Yes, you should love, respect, and forgive, but there are limits to even those. For the first time, I understood that I could show love by walking away from a toxic relationship (i.e., my parents), and I have the blessing of God to do so. I confronted them myself on multiple occasions, I confronted them with my partner on several occasions, and lastly, I prayed to God to change their hearts and have them see the damage they caused.

In all of this pleading with them to see my perspective, they turned their back on me and continued on their path without God. That is their choice; after all, God does give us the option to believe in him or not. They chose their course, and I have chosen mine.

If you choose the path of not forgiving others, you are left with hatred in your heart and the powerful drive to seek retribution. So I ask you today to read my words and let them speak to your heart. If you have persons in your life who have wronged you, make a vow to forgive them and give up seeking to win. You will feel a heavy weight lifted from your shoulders because keeping those feelings inside takes up room meant to be used to better yourself.

The future is full of unknowns, but one thing is clear: you won’t be able to make it with baggage holding you down. Resilience is a daily activity that helps bring balance to your life and gives rise to the the best version of yourself. Give yourself a break. Walk away to build your whole self.

Thank you, and please let me know what you think about this article in the comments. Also, if this spoke to you, or if you think someone else might benefit from the message, please do me a favor and share this post with them.

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