To forgive another who has hurt you, you need to do certain things like seeing the other as truly human and not defining that person only by the unjust acts. Yet, there is more than doing; there is persevering internally, within yourself. It takes a certain degree of tenacity to stay with the process of forgiving another because forgiveness can be hard work, especially if the injustice against you is severe.
Once you have forgiven another, it takes more perseverance and tenacity to forgive another person and then another. To stay at forgiving rather than sinking into bitterness or pessimism takes the strong will. “But, I already tried forgiveness…..and I keep getting hurt.” No matter how many times you have been hurt, you can reduce that hurt by forgiving. Think about it for a moment: To what in your life do you keep going back to regardless of difficulty and struggle? Where in your life do you not quit no matter what? Your answer will show you that you have a strong will in some areas of your life.
Why not, then, apply that strong will to forgiving? Why let pessimism have even a minute of your time? Your strong will can keep pessimism away.
The strong will needs to be understood, nurtured, and practiced in the context of forgiving. Long live the strong will.
Do you realize that your practicing forgiveness now may pay unexpected dividends for you decades from now? As an example, look at how the Amish community handled the tragedy in Pennsylvania in 2006. The world wondered how the community could stand in forgiveness after 10 girls were shot and 5 died. The answer: Forgiveness is part of their daily culture.
Please realize that each decision and each act of forgiveness now may pay great dividends for you and others 20 years from now. Forgiveness today is an investment in your future.
To grow in any virtue is similar to building muscle in the gym through persistent hard work. We surely do not want to overdo anything, including the pursuit of fitness.
Yet, we must avoid under-doing it, too, if we are to continue to grow. It
is the same with forgiveness. We need to be persistently developing our forgiveness muscles as we become forgivingly fit. This opportunity is now laid out before you. What will you choose? Will you choose a life of diversion, comfort, and pleasure, or the more exciting life of risking love, challenging yourself to forgive, and helping others in their forgiveness fitness?
Enright, Robert D. (2012-07-05). The Forgiving Life: A Pathway to Overcoming Resentment and Creating a Legacy of Love (APA Lifetools) (Kindle Locations 5359-5360). American Psychological Association. Kindle Edition.
Patience. To forgive requires much patience because we cannot rush the process; we cannot will the end of the pain; we cannot automatically change the one who hurt us. Patience with perseverance…..and an acceptance of the suffering are keys.
When we have impatience with the forgiveness process we are misunderstanding what the process is. It unfolds. We do not rush through it. I have come to realize that this unfolding, this waiting for relief from the suffering, is a time of strengthening. It is a time of learning a greater humility. We are not the ones who always are in control.
In the waiting comes wisdom. We learn more about ourselves and our ability to endure even when there is great pain. We learn who other people are. They can hurt us, but ultimately they cannot destroy us from our inside because we see our own strength developing. Out of waiting comes a stretching of our patience and a shrinking of our impatience. Out of waiting comes growth as persons.
Sometimes when we are caught up in grief and anger, it seems like this is all there will ever be now in our life.
Permanent tears. Permanent anger.
Yet, please take a look at two different times in your life in which you were steeped in heartache or rage. The tears came…..and they left.
Today it may seem like these will never end…..but they will.
Take a lesson from your own past. The pains were temporary.
They are temporary even now.
Forgiveness helps them to be temporary.
Last week, I was on an airplane to New York City. At one point, I started to flip through the airline magazine and this is what I found: page after page was filled with self-indulgences of every kind imaginable. There were waterfalls and fancy restaurants and fine chocolates and the newest fashions. Not once was there a message of self-sacrifice or service to others. I guess such self-sacrifice is not profitable.
The message of self-indulgence stayed with me. If we are bombarded with constant messages of pleasure, will we become a society that exalts this to a norm, in which pleasure-seeking becomes an accepted way of life? If so, we may stop examining the assumption that a pleasure-seeking life is one that is not worth living, if our goal is genuine happiness. When we stop such an examination and give in to pleasure all the time, we may find life to be rather meaningless. After all, what does one do when all the chocolates are gone or the trip to the hidden chalet is over and the new fashion is, well, not so fashionable any more?
Forgiveness as self-sacrificial service to others is a message diametrically opposed to the messages in that airline magazine. OK, so I am fuming at her injustice…..pass the bon-bons. OK, so I am enraged with his firing me……let’s go on a trip. Pleasure-as-diversion can hide the pain in need of cleansing. Pleasure-as-self-help may weaken the will to fight for mercy and forgiveness. One’s energy to be in service to others may weaken.
Hard work and pleasure-seeking surely can be in balance in a full life. The magazine did not give such a balanced message. That made me worry……for forgiveness…..for strong wills to give of ourselves even when it is not pleasurable to do so. May we never over-indulge in pleasure to the point of losing our way with forgiveness, which, in the long run, may produce much more happiness than one more chocolate with an orange center.
Never giving up. Perseverance. The strong will. Forgiveness is hard work and the more severely you are hurt by another person’s injustice, the harder will be you work. It is too easy to enter forgiveness with a kind of euphoria, full of hope that all will be well soon. As you then start to sprint, you realize that you are in a marathon……not a sprint. It is then that your strong will has to come into the picture to aid you in continuing to practice forgiveness until you make significant progress.
Learning to forgive those who hurt you deeply is analogous to starting a physical fitness program. You may start with a light heart and much enthusiasm, and these wane as the exercises get routine, as the muscles get sore, as the enthusiasm melts. It is then that sheer determination must help you through. It is similar with forgiveness. After a while, the practice of forgiveness may become a chore rather than an enthusiastic exercise of hope. Please note that the perseverance is well worth the pain of continuing the marathon. After a while you will notice an emotional strength building in you. After a while you will see that you are now stronger than the hurts against you. After a while you will see that through the exercise of your strong will, you are now forgivingly fit. Let the strong will help you to complete the journey of forgiveness.