Forgiveness Takes Time
by: Tia Miller
We often wonder why forgiveness is so hard to do when someone has hurt or wronged us. Forgiveness is a process and cannot often be done overnight or right away. We sometimes feel that we have to forgive quickly. When people hurt us, we feel different emotions, such as guilt, anger, shame or wanting to seek revenge. What we must understand is that having these feelings are okay. What is not okay is to act on these feelings. We are human and feeling different emotions after someone has hurt or wronged us is normal. It is okay to go through the process of forgiving so that we can forgive whole heartily and heal properly.
Forgiving when we are not ready or prematurely can sometimes cause false forgiveness. When we falsely forgive someone, we mask those feelings of being hurt without dealing them. This is like putting a band aide over those feelings and covering them up for a moment. As soon as we are hurt again or faced with a similar situation, the band aide is pulled off, and those feelings come right back. It is like pulling the scab off of a wound that has not healed properly. Think about how a wound looks when the scab is pulled off. he wound may ooze puss or blood and look unappealing to the eye. This is similar to how it looks when a person has not healed properly from being hurt.
When we are not healed properly, those masked feelings of hurt can come out in an unpleasing way. This is because hurt that has not been properly addressed or dealt with can turn into anger. Yes, we are sometimes left with a scar even if the wound heals properly. This is okay because scars remind us of how we overcame being hurt. We must remember that going through any process helps us to gain an understanding of something. So think of the process of forgiveness as a learning period to gain understanding of how to deal with being hurt instead of trying to understand why that person has hurt us. We often ask questions such as, “why did that person hurt us or what did we do to make that person hurt us”? Asking these type of questions can prolong the healing process because we are opening the door for guilt and blame to set-in. It does not matter why someone has hurt us or what made them hurt us. What matters is how we react to the hurt and how we heal. God speaks of forgiveness in the Bible and how we should forgive those who has sinned against us. He does not ask us to figure out why that person has sinned against us. We must trust God to deal with that person and their issues.
Most of the time, people hurt others because of past experiences that have negatively affected them. This is why it is imperative that we deal with the feelings of hurt so that we do not mirror the same behavior of the person who hurt us. There are many different processes of forgiveness. We must figure out what process works best for us individually. This is where counseling and our spirituality comes into play. Through seeking God and or counseling, we can figure out which path that we should take to get on the road to forgiveness. There are many books and literature written on forgiveness, but no one can tell us how to forgive because forgiveness comes from the heart. Those resources can be used as a guide to figure out our individual way to forgive.
There are stages in forgiveness that we must go through to ensure that we genuinely forgive someone.
The first stage is first to acknowledge the hurt. Without acknowledging the hurt, the healing process cannot begin.
The second stage is to express emotions and feelings. We must allow ourselves to be honest about how we truly feel.
The third stage is to deal with those feelings. This can be simple as taking time out for ourselves, seeking counseling or relying on spirituality.
The Fourth stage is to start the healing process and forgive.
Taking the time to forgive truly helps us to heal, forgive without remorse and avoid falsely forgiving someone. Have you taken the time to forgive truly or have you forgiven prematurely?
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15 NIV)