I realize that forgiving someone who has offended, harmed, betrayed or battered you is an exceedingly difficult task. When I chose to forgive someone who had badly hurt me, it took all my strength and courage… and quite a lot of time.
I won’t go into the details but, believe me, I was an innocent victim and, I presume, was simply viewed as some kind of “collateral damage.”
The turning point for me was when friends started worrying about how awful I looked. The pain was, quite literally, eating away at me. One pal was especially concerned and convinced me that the only way I would find peace was to forgive and let go of the injustice and desire for the person involved to apologize to me for what he’d done.
Larry told me that forgiveness (like love, joy and all the important things in life) is a decision. He advised me to make the intellectual choice to forgive. He warned me that my feelings would take a long time to catch up. They did. But whenever the anger, resentment and pain got intense, I would remind myself that I wasn’t denying the feelings, but that I had decided to forgive the person.
Slowly, with difficulty and with much faltering along the way, I got to the point where I was ready to let go.
Late one night in the chapel, I mentally summoned the person who’d victimized me and asked him to kneel in front of me. In my imagination, I placed my hands upon his head and told him I forgave him. [The real person doesn’t know I’ve forgiven him and, poor soul, probably doesn’t even realize that he caused me so much agony that I used to throw up when I thought about what he’d done to me. But that’s okay.]
The moment God gave me the grace to forgive him – with my heart and soul as well as my head – remains one of the unforgettable experiences of my life. I felt lighter by 50lbs and my spirit soared.
After that, I would still get twinges of anger and resentment, but they were much easier to deal with than before and, in time, they went away altogether.
I’m not saying that this method will work for everyone. But it sure helps me.
As I replied to one commenter last week, I believe there is nothing more God-like that we can do for other people than to forgive them in love.