What happens when you forgive someone? And I mean really forgive?

Last week, emotions overcame me. With everything going on in the world, I realized how short our time on Earth is. I realized that I did not want to leave this planet without forgiving those who had hurt me. I started praying, initially thinking that it would just be a good way for me to dissolve years worth of pain. What’s amazing is that it turned into an opportunity for me to realize my flaws in certain past relationships. I thought about how I could be different ーbetterー in my current relationships. What’s even MORE amazing, is that I was able to be truly grateful for those people, whoever they were. Past friends, boyfriends, coworkers, even family. I looked back and saw what was good in them, not just “what they taught me” or “how they changed me”. I was able to reflect on those relationships and friendships and just be thankful for them, without sugar coating and without demonizing. I could accept them for exactly what they were.

Funny enough, a few months ago, I had actually written specifically about the people who had hurt me and I had thought about sharing those stories with the internet. The more I thought about exposing those experiences, however, the more vengeful it seemed. It wasn’t necessarily sharing the stories that was wrong, but the reasoning behind why I wanted to do it. It was like I just wanted to share my pain and get people to “side with me”. I wanted someone to confirm that pain and say, “That is such a horrible thing for someone to do!” 

But once my heart was in a place of humility and prayer, I was able to reflect on the good times and memories in my past friendships, even if it were the tiniest of moments. I prayed that their lives would be filled with joy and peace. All I wanted was for them to experience the goodness of God.

It is certain that this will be an ongoing process. One day, I might wake up with leftover resentment in my heart, but I will take those thoughts captive and I will never stop trying to learn from those wounding, yet valuable, human exchanges. For a long time I thought that since I was the common denominator in those relationships that maybe there was something wrong with me and so I would emotionally isolate myself from potential friendships, fearing rejection. However, after my self-reflection, I realized that I am a kind and worthy friend and I refuse to let those experiences taint my current relationships. 

I remember asking my mom once a few years ago, “How do you know when you’re in love?” She replied, “You just know.” I didn’t really understand that statement until I had finally fallen in love with my husband. There was just this overwhelming feeling that I knew couldn’t be anything else. Feeling authentic forgiveness was exactly like that. I think last week was the first time I had truly fallen in forgiveness, with myself and with others. 

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