As I sat listening to the speaker, my stomach was in knots. That’s saying a lot considering I hear stories about the abuse that my clients suffered on an almost daily basis. I could not believe a person could be treated so inhumanly as a child and stand before a group of 2000 women, speaking about forgiveness.
Stormie Omartian is a speaker and author of several books. She speaks about many topics and she said many words of wisdom that I will not forget. One of them has really stuck with me. After she had described her horrible abuse from her own mother, she talked about her journey of forgiveness and what it has done in her life. She said,“Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right- it makes you free!”
Wow- so true, yet still so difficult. I have also heard it said before, “Forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free, only to find the prisoner was you!”
Forgiveness is one of the most challenging things for any of us to work thru. There is something about forgiving someone that feels like we are saying, “It’s okay.”
When I ask my kids to say they are sorry to each other for hurting each other, their natural response is as follows:
Child 1: “I’m sorry for hitting you”.
Child 2: “It’s okay”.
I always am there to correct child #2 to say, “It’s not okay that he hit you. That wasn’t nice. But it is good to forgive. Let’s just say I forgive you.”
Child 2: “Okay, I forgive you.”
I’m trying to teach them that you are not saying that it is okay, even though that is our natural tendency. It’s not okay to hurt each other, but inevitably in relationships, it does happen.
Many of us hold on to unforgiveness because of this. It is dire to understand this, in order for us to move on. As long as we continue telling ourselves that we are letting that person off the hook or saying it’s “okay”, we will not be free, because we will not forgive.
It is important to look at our lives and see what holding onto the pain is doing for us. It usually serves some kind of function. This is for another blog on another day. But what are we holding on to? Are we punishing that person? Do we feel in control of the situation by not forgiving? More than likely that other person no longer is suffering and has gone on living their lives. In MOST cases, not all, it is only hurting you. Even in cases where the relationship has been cut off, most likely YOU are hurting as bad as that other person by that sever.
Now I do need to say, as I’ve said before, there are times when to go to a person and forgive them to their face is more harmful than good. Some people are just not safe. In this case, this is where you would work thru it on your own with a counselor or pastor, to help set you free. There are powerful ways of doing that without working with that unsafe person. This can also work with someone who has hurt you and has passed away.
It’s amazing how many of us have the shackles of unforgiveness around our ankles and we don’t even realize it. Once they are off, we realize the prison we were in and it truly does feel free to be in control and CHOOSE to let it go.
No one has to answer this publicly but I encourage you to ask yourself: Who have you not forgiven in your life and what shackles do you wear?
Thank you for reading this week and being open to forgiveness.
Written by Natalie Chandler
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville