Someone calls you a nasty name. A person cuts you off and swerves in front of you on the road just to show off. A friend loses interest in your life and does not call you for five years. Each of us has experienced these types of situations and the emotional pain that was caused at the hands of others.
The question is: how will I respond?
Forgiveness is a choice that I make, not a choice that the person who hurt me makes. We cannot always wait for someone to ask for forgiveness before we forgive them. They may never ask for it. They might not even be sorry. They might not even be aware that they hurt you. They might think they did nothing wrong. If we wait for the person to understand what they did to us, or expect them to change in some way, we may be very disappointed.
When it comes to these types of painful situations, I need to determine my own future. I “call the shots” now, not the other person. I make the choice of what to do next, not him.
There are steps to forgiveness.
First, I must make the decision to forgive the other person. I make an act of the will. I must say it to myself and mean it as much as I can: “I forgive x.” This is an enormous victory if we are able to do this. If we can make this simple statement, then I am well on my way to forgive the person.
Emotions do not heal right away, but they will heal in time.
Second, think about the person who offended you and what they did. Be open about your wound and pray about it with God. Healing cannot happen if we do not open the wound before God. As someone once said, a surgeon cannot heal the illness if he does not know what is wrong with the patient.
As we think about the person who hurt us, we may even get to the point where we feel pity for her. Chances are, when they said that awful comment to us, they were not in a very good place in their life. People who are happy and fulfilled do not say those types of things. There must have been something wrong in the person’s heart and in the circumstances of her life. I should begin to have mercy on her.
Life on Earth is short, and you have many things to accomplish before you move on to the next life. There are many other people who need your love, care and attention.