Healing the Spirit through Forgiveness

There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.  ~Josh Billings

Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of

resentment and retaliation.  ~Roberto Assagioli

Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it forgoes revenge, and dares forgive an injury.  ~E.H. Chapin

Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.  ~Oscar Wilde

He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.  ~George Herbert

Forgiveness is the sweetest revenge.  ~Isaac Friedmann

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.  ~Lewis B. Smedes, “Forgiveness – The Power to Change the Past,” Christianity Today, 7 January 1983

Forgiveness is a funny thing.  It warms the heart and cools the sting.  ~William Arthur Ward

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.  ~Paul Boese

Forgiving is love’s toughest work, and love’s biggest risk.  If you twist it into something it was never meant to be, it can make you a doormat or an insufferable manipulator.  Forgiving seems almost unnatural.  Our sense of fairness tells us people should pay for the wrong they do.  But forgiving is love’s power to break nature’s rule.  ~Lewis B. Smedes

What exactly is “Forgiveness”? Some people may believe it to mean that you are condoning what a person has done and you therefore have to let whatever happened slide and move on with that person remaining in your life. While others feel that true forgiveness has not been reached until you “forget” what was done to you. At times we all have voiced our opinions on what it means to each of us. Oprah Winfrey’s favorite definition of forgiveness was told to her by a past guest. “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” The way you define forgiveness for yourself may lead to determining how easy or difficult it is for you to forgive someone.

The official meaning according to Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “forgive” as follows:

Transitive verb

1a: to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult>
b: to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>

2: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon <forgive one’s enemies>

If you believe that you are “letting someone off the hook” you may be less inclined to forgive but if you feel that this will release you from carrying negative energy around then it would make the notion of forgiving someone a freeing experience. We often refer to negative energy as “baggage.” The more baggage a person carries around can lead to unhappiness and, in severe cases, depression.

Holding someone’s previous actions against them within your heart will burden it and not only will it keep hurt out, it will also keep love out, and keep you from freely opening the doors to your soul. Keeping your heart under lock and key does not hurt the person you’re angry with but instead stifles your emotional growth. Instead of moving on you tend to be stuck in a past of unending pain, sometimes without even realizing it.
It is very difficult for a new relationship to flourish if you are bringing along all of your past worries and woes into it. Give yourself and any new relationship that you may form a fair chance by letting go. Just let it go. Give your heart permission to trust again. You and everyone around you will be happier and you will feel a sense of relief that will amaze you. I know it is a tough, and at times scary, road to journey down but that first step is always the hardest. No one wants to be hurt or carry resentment in their hearts if they can keep from it. And you are just existing and not living if you allow your spirit to be held hostage to the past. You are paying ransom every minute you allow anger and resentment to live within you.

Search deep within yourself for the answers to begin the healing process of whatever is making your heart ache. Remember you are in control of your emotions and well being. No one can take away your strength, your resilience and your ability to rise above. Everyone goes through heartbreak at some point in their lives but it’s up to you whether or not you continue to carry it with you for the rest of your life.

Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you have to become best friends or even let them back into your life if you choose not to have that person around you. Nor do you have to forget about whatever pain they have caused you. Forgetting about the past will sometimes condemn you to repeat it so remembering how you got hurt is not necessarily a bad thing. It is letting go of the resentment and anger that affects your well being that is crucial. Releasing it can only lift a burden off of your shoulders and your heart. The forgiveness is for you to feel better, to lighten your load, by removing the excess baggage one piece at a time. Release the negative energy. You are strong and you have the power to free your heart by forgiving, healing your spirit and reclaiming your happiness.

The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.  ~Mahatma Gandhi

We all have a story to tell. This is mine.

It has taken me several years to accumulate all of the baggage that I carry. It has taken me several years to unload it. As of this day I no longer carry such a heavy burden. I have lightened the load because, I forgive you.

Was it yesterday or many lost years ago that I was kneeling in front of my bed with my hands clinching the soft, slippery satin sheets that we once made passionate love on so many times before? How long ago was it that my mind was in such distress after being up all night trying to track you down that I couldn’t bring myself out of my dark isolated corner to go to work so I called in sick? As I kneeled and wept from the inside out, every muscle in my body tightened and the pain was so severe that I thought every breath I took would be the last. And sometimes wished it was because how could I ever go on pretending to live without you. Every second was a week. Every week was a year. Time had no meaning because my man wasn’t here. I forgive you.

As I laid in a cold hospital bed, pushing our beautiful child from my worn body and when I called out your name, you were nowhere to be found. I forgive you.
For all of the times you said you’d be right over and the table I had prepared, covered with sweet fragrant flowers and all of your favorite dishes, including that special dessert that I knew you liked so much, remained untouched.
Soft candlelight flickered as its shadows danced across the room and onto the walls until my tears helped extinguish them as I leaned forward to blow them out the next morning. I forgive you.

But the questions still consumed me. Each time my heart ached I wondered how many tears the body could possibly hold. How many times could I swim in them before I drown? What would it take to lift so many years of heartaches and disappointments from my shoulders? I know now that the answer is in me. It’s not in your hands. Only I hold the key. And I forgive you. I can now freely unlock and open the doors of my soul to feel the cool cleansing breeze of forgiveness flowing through me. Its gentle touch caresses my spirit and eases my mind. I embrace the dawn of new beginnings, removing the baggage one piece at a time. I reclaim my happiness. And so, let the healing begin.

Forgive all who have offended you, not for them, but for yourself.  ~Harriet Nelson