“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” ~ Paul Boese
Forgiving is Tough
Why do we find it so difficult to forgive? Why do we hold on to grudges and find ourselves unable to let go and move forward in our lives? Why do we stubbornly hold on to our anger and not let things go? Why is our need to be right more important than our need to have peace?
I’ve been there: miserable, stuck, angry, frustrated, misunderstood. It was during a difficult time in my life when I experienced a great deal of loss in a short time and was also betrayed by a close friend, or so I thought.
I had just called off my wedding four months before the wedding date. Although I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do, it was accompanied by a tremendous amount of loss. I had sold my home, quit my job and moved to another state where I didn’t know anyone. For months I felt like a shell of my former self. I moved four times in ten months and kept most of my belongings in storage.
My Inability to Forgive
Needless to say, it wasn’t a good time to have a major falling out with a close friend. Out of deep respect for her I won’t go into the details, but I will say that we both viewed my actions quite differently. Unable to find common ground, we didn’t speak for a long time. Sharing family and friends made this difficult indeed. Although I know now that in her heart she was doing what she felt was best for me, I felt betrayed. I was unable to forgive her for not supporting me and my actions.
Turning My Life Around
This grudge, coupled with my own guilt for not listening to my gut and hurting my (now ex) fiancé, really did a number on my self-esteem and self-worth. I had to work really hard to find my own “all-knowing, this-is-what’s-best-for-me!” voice.
It wasn’t easy. I had to learn to trust myself.
As a result of finding and honoring my voice, I’m very proud to say that I bought a condo, without a stitch of advice from anyone. No one looked at it for me, and no one gave me advice when there was a bidding war on my home. Previously I viewed other people’s opinions as more valuable as mine.
I made a promise to myself that those days were over. I can now laugh about buying that home because it has a ton of windows. I love natural light, but I spent the first year in my home so depressed that I kept all the blinds down. It was my cocoon stage—necessary, but certainly not pretty.
I Was Still Missing Something
Even though I was making great strides in learning to trust myself, holding on to the grudge against my friend weighed heavily on my mind. It kept me up at night and it plagued me during the day. I needed to forgive her to be free of the toxic emotions. I set my intention to really understand forgiveness and eventually I was able to replace the hurt feelings with loving, kind thoughts toward this person.
Forgiveness is a Choice
There are so many things that trip us up. We need to be able to see things through another person’s eyes and be open to a different perspective. What is the other person’s point of view? How would he or she tell the story? Don’t wait for an apology or let your ego stop you from forgiving. Forgiveness is a choice. It’s a choice we make to free ourselves of the toxicity of holding onto anger and it enables us to move forward in our lives. It’s a choice we make to be a hero and not a victim in our lives.
Author: Dorie Bisanz
Editor: Evan Yerburgh