Forgiveness is a tough topic to bring up and talk about when you are the one who has been hurt. It doesn't matter who it was, whether they had been your best friend, spouse, sibling, parent, any human being, or even our own self. To say, "I forgive ... " is probably one of the hardest decisions we will ever make as a person. Now since forgiveness in itself is a topic that can go into a novel with additional follow up novels, I am trying to touch on basics here and will keep this focused around my most recent experience.
I was betrayed by a friend who I thought was my best friend and it hurt - really hurt. However, once I realized she had done and said what she said in order to further her own position around the same people we were around, I had to focus hard on letting it go. And let me tell you, it was very hard. I am talking about a community of people, not just a handful. I also knew that spiritually and emotionally, I was and am a stronger person than this friend of mine. I am not saying I got over it just like that and honestly it probably took me a year - that is WAY too long to get over a hurt. I look back and see how much of my precious time here on earth that I wasted and I can never get it back - ever. None of us can. That's why forgiveness is important - it's for "us" - NOT them.
This friend never spoke to me in fear of being confronted and having to tell the truth. I was willing to talk to her - I don't yell because it gives me a headache, but I do become emotional, especially if someone has told lies or their words have been taken by others as words being said by "me". But in time those she had spoken to who originally believed her, have since opened their eyes and are slowly contacting me through social networks, E-mail and phone; which have been great. I'd say a good 95% or maybe even more, have actually come an apologized to ME for even believing another and without confirming by talking to me. That feels great, by the way. And again, I had to forgive all of them too because they judged and sentenced me without a trial. Forgiveness is for "us" - NOT them. (yes, I repeated this).
Now, if the day comes when or if we ever do meet up face to face, what will I do? All I can say is that I would tell her that I forgive her. The sad truth though is that this person is one who is able to convince herself of stories she has told and so the truth is never there any longer for her. I feel sad for a person like that. But I forgive her. I have to - it's for "me".
And yes, it was very hard to get over what had been said and done behind my back. I am talking about a situation that when an opportunity for our family to move arose, we jumped at it. I am not saying we ran away because it also just happened around this same time that a friend of ours, who was also our landlord, had not paid our mortgage in over 6 months and the bank was foreclosing. He wanted us to continue paying our rent so he could pay for his son's college instead of paying the mortgage - well, we were out within a couple weeks. This person had also been trying to sell us this property we were renting and doing so while it was in foreclosure, but I have to say that God protected us in all of that. We took this turn of events as a sign to make a change for ourselves and did move away. Yes, we forgave this man too and even told him via text that we still loved him. Note: this man has since lost every piece of investment property and even his own estate home since then. He has also lost his wife in that she left him over all of this. And I am not saying it's a great thing that he lost more than we ever did, but he did make poor choices and is now suffering the reactions to those past bad actions he made against us and many other families.
Has it been hard to forgive - ABSOLUTELY! But you know, since I am such an emotional person, I held so much stress in my body that even my Chiropractor asked why I was allowing these people to control so much of my life and mostly my thoughts. She pointed to the frontal part of my brain where all of my daily thoughts of these two main people and their actions had made a battle in my mind. She even told me to "let it go". So I continue to picture that when anything comes up that starts to take control of my thoughts. And yes, I am a Christian and do continually ask God to help me through this and anything else that may come up in the future.
When we realize no person is better than us and that we were all created equal and we ourselves have also hurt others, getting onto the road to forgiving can be difficult and long. That means even when we have done something wrong, we need to also forgive ourselves. If we don't forgive ourselves and love "me", how can we move on and love others?
One other note is that Facebook has been a blessing to me. I can not begin to tell you the numbers of people from my past (high school almost 30 years ago) have written and asked ME to forgive them because of things they did to me or the way they treated me back then. All I can say is, "Wow"! I had honestly never given many of these actions of these people from my past a second thought but it goes to show that THEY had and when they took the opportunity to ask for MY forgiveness, I gave it. Remember, forgiveness is for "me" but in these cases, it was for "them".
Life is too short. Do you need to forgive someone? Ask them for forgiveness. If they give it, then great! But if they do not, then it's now on them. You do what you have to in order to be free from the stress and you will feel so much better. And who knows? There could be an issue of unforgiveness in your past that has caused stress in your life. Once you at least ask, that's all that is required. It is done and now out of your hands. It the person is no longer living, say it in the mirror. Do something that will allow you to let it go and move on.
One other last word. Please don't get caught up in the whole, "But you don't know what they did to me!" No, many people may not know what someone did to you, but do you prefer to hold onto it and allow THEM to control your thoughts for the rest of your life? They aren't worth it and you are worth much more than that to the many people around you that DO love and care about you.
Update On Apr 15, 2010: Forgiveness has been showing its head lately in my life once again. Not sure what triggers certain memories, but here goes. My ex-husband and I were in the process of adopting a baby and within the few short 8 months that we were married, he said he wanted a divorce. No explanation - that was it. So, I moved back in with my parents and later found out (3 years later), that he had gotten a co-worked pregnant during our marriage and THAT was the reason. Yes, it hurt at that time when I found out because I have never been able to get pregnant and it felt like another knife went into my stomach. But I know over the years I have grown stronger and closer to my Lord. I use to try and do this thing called "life" on my own. But now when things come up, I turn to God and just try to focus on praising Him in song or just talking to Him. It really does help me. I have had to learn to forgive my ex in this process and have done so. After all, I have a much better life now because of that path. The other great thing is having a blog or place to write things out can help tremendously. And the best part is that you don't even have to publish it. As long as you can get it out in some manner to help you mend.