Indeed, it can be very challenging to forgive someone. More so, when the wrong done is a very grievous and painful one. A lot of people have even made decisions never to forgive certain persons in their lives on account of one offense or the other. As a result, the weight of these grudges and pains are carried by such persons, sometimes even without the knowledge of the persons concerned.
Many, too, have a vague understanding of the concept of what true forgiveness is or how to achieve it. And as such, they shy away from it. Yet, as contained in the Lord’s Prayer, we are to forgive our neighbour even as we have been forgiven by God of our sins. In this article, we will be looking at various tips on how you can make forgiveness a much easier task, and how you can easily let go of all the pain and hurt that comes with unforgiveness.
- Improve on Your Knowledge about Forgiveness
Read books, articles, and documents on forgiveness, the benefits of forgiveness, and what God says about it. A good book, to begin with, would be the Bible. Learn what the Bible says about forgiveness. Find out also, the teaching of the church on forgiveness as contained in various church documents.
Listen to talks and sermons too that focus on forgiveness. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:15, “study to show thyself approved”. There are a lot of truths embedded in the Bible, one of them is the truth about forgiveness. Search for these truths and let them sink into your heart. A better understanding of the concept of forgiveness will help facilitate forgiveness for others.
2. Surrender to God
The Bible says in Romans 8:8, “…those still under the control of their sinful nature cannot please God”. Also, in the Gospel of John 15:5, it says “… apart from me, you can do nothing” (NIV). Ask God to help you forgive those that have wronged you. Forgiveness can be very difficult sometimes, that’s why we need divine help in achieving it.
1 John 4:19 also says that “we love because He first loved us”. This tells you that you first need to receive the power to forgive before you can be able to forgive. No one can forgive without having first received forgiveness from God. So, go down on your knees and pray to God. Receive His forgiveness and ask Him to help you forgive that wrong that seems impossible to forgive.
Asking God for help requires acknowledging that you cannot forgive by your human strength. This is especially needed for offences that are very grave in magnitude. For example, in the case of betrayal by a very close and trusted person, or even a murder case.
3. Make Use of the Sacraments of the Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that sacraments are outward signs of inward grace. Therefore, take advantage of these sacraments to receive the much-needed grace for forgiveness. Receive Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist regularly to receive grace for forgiveness. Go to confession to get rid of the weight of any personal sins that can be a hindrance to forgiveness.
Visit the Blessed Sacrament daily to commune with Jesus present in the Holy Eucharist and receive the peace that only Christ can give. The peace of Christ in your heart will enable you to forgive your neighbour relatively easily. If you cannot make it physically to the Blessed Sacrament; silent prayer using live images of the Blessed Sacrament online, e.g. on YouTube helps.
4. Open up on the issues that require forgiveness
Make conscious efforts to let go of the hatred you feel towards that person that has wronged you. Don’t harbour that feeling inside of you. Go to the person who has hurt you and make your feelings known to the person. Open up to your offender. It doesn’t matter if you were the one that has been wronged. Make that first move in approaching the person to free yourself within.
Studies have shown that these grudges and unforgiveness have detrimental psychological and emotional effects on the person holding them. So, you might want to do yourself a huge favour by letting go of that grudge.
5. Let go of your anger
Don’t be tempted to have that feeling of entitlement to an apology or being angry. Get rid of the mindset that you were the one that was wronged, and as such, deserve an apology. Sometimes, we also feel like it’s in our right to have a feeling of resentment or anger towards a fellow based on a wrong done. And sometimes, rightly so. But this feeling does not make the situation any better. It only widens the gap that exists between the two of you.
Tell yourself that you will no longer harbour such feelings inside of you. Let go of that anger and resentment, even though you have every right to be angry. Open your heart once again to mercy. Say to yourself “although I have every right to be angry, I will no longer be angry”. Decide to let go of it all. Make that decision in your heart, and notice how miraculously you will be relieved from the pain, the hurt, and the resentment.
6. Address your inner pain and hurt
Sometimes, the reason for our hurt goes beyond the event that has brought it up. The pain you’re feeling might just be a culmination of past events in your life. As such, you need to sit back and have an examination of the past events in your life. Take note of those events that have brought you much pain. It might be the case of withheld love or physical abuse or some other thing.
You have to acknowledge that these events in your life have brought you much pain. This will give you an idea of where your pain is actually coming from, and facilitate the process of forgiveness. Realize the importance of forgiveness in freeing yourself from the pains you feel inside of yourself. Consult a therapist for help in addressing your inner pain if it appears too huge to handle on your own. Ideally your therapist should be a Catholic or Christian in general, so that they facilitate your healing in the light of Christ.
7. Learn from people’s experience of forgiveness
Learn from the experience of others in situations that are similar to yours. Find out how they were able to forgive and let go of the wrongs that were done to them. This will give you an idea of how to go about your situation. Once again, the Bible is a good place to look for historical events on forgiveness. There are a few stories that talk about forgiveness in the Bible, like the story of Jacob and Esau, the story of Joseph and his brothers who sold him into slavery, and above all, Jesus’ prayer for forgiveness for those who were crucifying him on the cross, Luke 23:34.
Draw strength and inspiration from these stories and experiences and apply them in your efforts to forgive. Speak to trusted persons about the difficulty experienced in trying to forgive. They might have experienced the same or similar situations you are going through and will offer you just what you need to be able to forgive.
8. Be empathetic to those who have wronged you
Try to find out why the person who hurt you acted the way he or she did. It might be as a result of an action you did that hurt them in the first place or some other personal reason that you are not aware of. Take a look at the person’s life from what you know and try to imagine what is going on with the person.
You may realize that the person is also suffering, even more than you are. Put yourself in their shoes and see your offender as a poor fellow in need of love and attention. This will help convert every form of anger or resentment towards them to love and affection and in turn, lead to forgiveness.
9. Acknowledge your hurt
Don’t try to hide or ignore your hurt. You’ll only be doing yourself greater harm. Admit that you have been hurt. This is usually the first step to forgiveness and dealing with whatever hurt that has been experienced. Realize that admitting your hurt does not make you weak or vulnerable. It only opens the way to dealing with such hurt.
Acknowledging your hurt also helps you face this reality in other areas of your life and begin to heal in those areas too. Finally, acknowledging your hurt and dealing with it, helps you begin the healing process and strengthens you to deal with similar situations in the future. Once this inner healing has taken place, forgiveness is a much easier task.
Mary, Mother of Mercy and Help of Christians… Pray for us
Get new content delivered directly to your inbox