The Gift of Forgiveness

There is no greater gift than the gift of forgiveness. It is a powerful pathway to peace and deep inner healing. It is a gift most rewarding to one person – YOU. For some, that statement might seem counterintuitive. We often think that forgiveness is for the benefit of those we forgive. However, true forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. It has everything to do with ourselves. The courage to forgive, blesses us beyond what we might imagine. It opens the door to freedom and a dramatically different life, a different way of being.

Matthew 6:14, 15
14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But, if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

As Christians, we are taught to forgive because we seek to be like Christ. We are taught to forgive because Jesus forgave us of our sins. While that is true, Christ’s act of forgiveness offers an even greater lesson. Christ reiterated forgiveness because it is key to our freedom. Freedom from painful memories, trauma, resentment, unhealthy emotions, unnecessary grudges and unresolved issues. And this lesson is universal regardless of religious affiliation or dogma. It is a lesson for all.

When someone inflicts harm or causes us pain, it is oftentimes unintentional. What appears as intentional has very little to do with you. In reality, they themselves are in deep pain and know no other way to interact, to be in relationship. They are oftentimes doing what was done to them, what they learned and experienced in their own lives. Their internal struggles and pain are projected outward and you are the unintended or intended recipient. The recipient of anger, harsh words, criticism or even violence and abuse. When in pain, at a deeply subconscious level we want others to experience our pain. There is a desperate desire to find some way, any way to lessen the pain. At its core, that is why we inflict pain on others.

Pastor T.D. Jakes offers great insight on unforgiveness. He says that “unforgiveness is like a cancer in your soul – it will move throughout your body until you are willing to release it and let it go….holding onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” We harm no one but ourselves when we hold onto unforgiveness.

In addition to forgiving others, there is an even greater blessing in forgiving ourselves. We actually inflict greater pain, judgment, criticism on ourselves than anyone else could. We are our worst critic and sit in judgment of every mistake, misstep we’ve made over our lifetime. In forgiving ourselves, we recognize that we’re all human and we all make mistakes. In forgiving ourselves, we have the opportunity to replace harsh self-judgment with some much needed grace.

I know from experience the healing power of forgiveness. I also know the detrimental impact of unforgiveness. I spent decades holding onto painful memories, trauma, unresolved issues and resentment that eroded my very existence. Coveting what I believed were intentional acts of harm that only caused me greater pain than the actual acts themselves. In holding on to this pain, I put up barriers between myself and others. Barriers that I thought protected me, but in reality kept most out. I had not yet learned that in forgiving, I could actually relieve myself of the pain which resided deep in my soul and be set free. I also learned that in forgiving, I am able to have greater compassion and understanding for others. As Dr. Maya Angelou so eloquently says “when you know better, you do better”. I now know better and choose to do better.

In my journey of forgiveness, I’ve learned that we are not meant to live with resentment, sadness and reliving old wounds from the past. In forgiving, we can move forward into a divinely destined freedom. We can live the life of peace and happiness that God has for us.

We all have situations and circumstances that are painful interactions with others. However, in feeling the emotions, letting them pass and deciding to forgive, we make a choice. We choose to no longer hold on to that which ultimately harms our soul and keeps us from moving forward. We choose to let it go. We choose to forgive. We choose to set ourselves free. In no way are we condoning the actions. However, we are making the choice to not live the harm over and over again.

Below is a prayer that I was blessed to receive that has guided my journey of forgiveness. It offers guidance on forgiving others, as well as, asking others for forgiveness. As we move out of victim mentality, we realize that we too have inflicted harm on others and must pray for their forgiveness. In sharing, I let others know that the level of emotion that comes up when reading is the depth of unforgiveness in your heart. Remain open and allow this prayer to bless your life. I pray it blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

To the Supreme Being, I humbly invoke for your Divine love, mercy, compassion, guidance and protection. Thank you for helping me let go of these negative thoughts, emotions and memories. Thank you for blessing me with the inner strength to continue with my spiritual practices. Thank you for blessing me with the ability to forgive myself and others. Thank you for the ability to forgive myself and others. Thank you for blessing me with love, inner peace, joy, happiness, good health, good will and the will to do good. In full faith, SO BE IT! AMEN.

Forgiving the People Who Have Hurt You
Picture that person in front of you and put your hands on your heart like you are praying because it’s easier to forgive when your heart is activated and say….

“Dear God, thank you for helping me to forgive ______.”

“I salute the Divinity within you (Name of Person)
We all are children of God, children of the Most High
We all make mistakes, we are all evolving.
“God loves the good. God loves the not so good. God loves the bad. God loves the terrible. God loves you. God loves me. God loves us all. From my soul to your soul (Name of Person), I forgive you. I know you were just doing the best you could at the time, and so was I. I forgive you for ______, _________, _______ (go into specific events, emotions, memories, etc that need to be released).”

Then close by saying, “Thank you for forgiving me as well. May God bless you with tremendous healing, love, health, prosperity, mercy, compassion, understanding and whatever you may need. God’s blessings be with you. Go in peace.”

Lastly, and very important, visualize a cord between the two of you and cut it.
This helps to disperse the energy and let go at a deeper level. You will probably need to repeat this several times, especially if it is a deep wound. You can say this, write it out or a combination of both. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just let it out in the most appropriate way for you.

I release, I am letting go.
(Be still, be aware. Feel compassion for that person)

Forgiveness From Those You Have Hurt
I salute the Divinity within you,
We all are children of God, children of the Most High
We all make mistakes, we are all evolving.
I apologize for my mistakes and for hurting you,
I humbly ask for forgiveness.
God’s Blessing be with you. Peace be with you.
I release, I am letting go.
(Be still, be aware. Feel compassion for that person)