Why Bother Being Ready to Forgive?
I once had a friend who told me that even though we were friends we would most likely and eventually offend each other. I thought it strange that he would predict such a thing, but he was right. Looking back on that conversation I think he was simply stating a fact: that whether we intend to or not, people hurt other people.
Though being offended is inevitable, we still get to choose how we respond and can be ready to forgive.
Be Ready to Forgive
Resentment is a universal emotion. It grows inside of us when we’ve held onto an offense and refuse to let it go. Resentment is also like a spider web. It traps its victims in stickiness. When offended, we get hung up by the lies we weave around our hurt feelings. We may think, “They don’t like me. They’ve never liked me. They just want to get even.”
The narratives we write for ourselves are endless, but they all have one thing in common: they originate from our woundedness. When we are wounded, we will go to any extreme to protect ourselves, even if it means lying.
But what if we were to choose to examine more closely, our offender? Were they purposefully malicious? Do they have a pattern of offending others? Was their offensive action tied to something else going on in their lives? Should I take what happened or what was said personally or objectively?
Not everything that happens to us is meant to be taken as an offense. Not everyone is a malicious character with a goal of making our lives miserable. If we were to keep these two simple ideas in mind then we’d be ready, willing and able to forgive our next offender.
Forgiveness is a free choice with a plethora of long lasting benefits. First of all, it releases us from the bitterness we hold against someone for their inability to pay off a debt they never knew they owed us. We may be waiting for them to say that they are sorry, but they can’t see what they’ve done wrong. Letting them off the hook, helps us to move on with life.
Forgiveness gives us empathy and compassion, softening and smoothing out our rough edges. We become more affable and welcoming to others who need someone to understand them.
With forgiveness, our perspective alters. We can begin to see how and why others feel the way they do.
Knowing that we may be offended on any given day by someone should not throw us off course. Instead our knowledge about forgiveness can prepare us to let others off the hook and give us freedom from resenting them.
Why bother being ready to forgive? It is worth being ready to forgive because forgiveness is the remedy that, when applied to our offenders, keeps us free from resentment and bitterness.