A lesson on how to forgive, for you and only you.
Forgiveness. That is what we were discussing in today’s counseling session. I figured this would be a short meeting because I really didn’t hold grudges. I had learned the art of forgiveness, so I was prepared to be in and out in no time and carry on with the day.
After a series of questions and some discussion, I realized there were actually a few people that I still needed to work on a little more fully forgiving. As I was discussing each person with the counselor and the hurt they caused me, the counselor randomly handed me a rock, and a rather large rock at that. At the conclusion of my sharing, I looked down at the three rocks in my hand, one for each person. I figured she was doing an illustration of the heavy burden I carry as I choose not to forgive, and she was. At the end of the session, I went to return the rocks but the counselor stopped me. She instructed me to carry these rocks around everywhere I went, all day, until I fully forgave the people I mentioned. Being honest, my immediate thought was, “I should have lied and said there was no one I held a grudge towards”, but it was too late for that. I am committed to my growth and change so I figured ‘Ok, whatever, I can knock this out quick. I will say I forgive them and then get rid of these rocks.’ As I went about my day, the rocks became pretty annoying; I carried them everywhere I went. What I noticed immediately was not the extra weight I was carrying, but the limitations they caused me; because I was carrying the rocks, I was limited to what else I could carry in my hands. As the day continued, the weight did get heavier. I could feel the strain on my shoulder as I carried my purse with the extra weight of the rocks.
In the following days, I was so busy that I really did not have time to sit and work on forgiving the people whom I held hurt against, nor did I really want to, so I continued on carrying my rocks; it was just easier that way. As the days passed, I would often forget the rocks were there. My bag was heavier, or my hands were full, but I became used to it; it no longer bothered me. I didn’t even try to carry things I may have wanted because I knew I couldn’t and my shoulder had already adapted to the heavy weight in my bag. Despite getting used to the added weight and limitations, I knew what I still needed to do.
I finally did sit down and took the time to search my heart and truly forgave the people who caused me such a deep level of hurt and pain. Once I forgave, I was finally able to put the rocks down; I didn’t have to carry them anymore, and I never had to pick them back up. Once I did this, I noticed something immediately, I had two hands free and open to carry those things which I wanted, my shoulder was relieved of the extra weight I was forcing it to carry, and heck, I noticed how light my purse actually was without rocks in it!
We all hold on to past hurts. That parent who abused you, the teacher who said we would never become anything, the boyfriend/girlfriend who rejected you, the friend who betrayed you, the supervisor who criticized you and if you are like me, maybe it is yourself you can’t forgive for something you may have done to someone else; we all have experienced this. Truth is, if you have not truly forgiven those people, then you are carrying around rocks, just like I was. Some of you have carried them so long, you do not even realize they are there. You are so used to carrying the extra weight, the heavy burden, that it no longer feels heavy. You are so used to living with your hands full of past hurts, that you do not even attempt to open yourself for new and greater things to happen in your future. Reality is, you won’t, you can’t experience the release of these burdens and the fullness of life until you forgive.
Forgiving is not easy and in no way does it make permissible the wrong that was done to you or maybe even the wrong you did to someone else, but for you to truly live a life full of the love and joy you deserve, it is critical.
“Forgiveness does not mean what happened is ok. It means not letting what happened take any more of your happiness.”Michelle Maros
Here are the 6 steps I take to truly forgive –
For each person, on a blank piece of paper, I write out the hurts. I write out exactly what they did to me that caused me pain.
I close my eyes and picture the person in my head. I imagine that person, not as the person who hurt me, but as a person who has been hurt in the very same way they hurt me. See hurt people, hurt people, so they are the ones in most need of grace.
After I realize the person who hurt me, is hurt as well, with my eyes still closed, I tell them I forgive them. I say this out loud as if they were sitting in front of me and I was speaking to them. I go down my list from #1 and forgive each hurt individually, starting each one with ‘I forgive you for….’.
Once you say you forgive them, destroy the list of hurts. Rip it up, burn it, whatever you wish to do to let it go for good. I personally burn it.
Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for carrying the burden for so long and robbing yourself of the fullness of life you deserve.
Choose grace when interacting with that person, or towards yourself, going forward (only if you absolutely must interact with them). Some people are ok to love from afar, really far, or even not at all.
One of my favorite artists says it best, “Grace wins every time!” – Matthew West
Freedom awaits. Once you forgive, the person will no longer have a hold on you. A go to reminder for me is the quote that states, ‘He who angers you, controls you’. They no longer get control. You are now in control. What they took from you, you have now taken back and a limitless future awaits.