Continuing on in our journey to forgiveness, if you are reading this then you have already made two decisions; the first being that you have decided to forgive, followed with the decision as to why you are choosing to forgive. In other words you have worked out for yourself (because you are the only one who can) what is in it for you, to choose the path of forgiveness. You did not make the decision because it’s what you are expected to do, or because others have told you that you should, because if you did, in the end you will not honestly forgive. You made it because you have answered the primary question that you must answer before you can truly begin pursing forgiveness… WIFM ‘What’s in it for me?’
Now you must answer another question that only you can answer, I can not give you the answer, nor can reading any book (or blog), listening to any scholar, friend, guide, pastor or family member. All of whom can give you “an” answer, but not "the" answer. You have to decide this for yourself.
You must define what ‘forgiveness’ means to you. If you don’t own the meaning of it, then it is simply a word, and not an action. To help you discover what forgiveness means to you, it will help to know what it is not, to identify any misconceptions that may be lingering about in your mind as to what forgiveness is.
Forgiveness is NOT:
1. Forgiveness is not sending the message that he (or she) can do wrong and get away with it.
2. Forgiveness does not mean that you have to bury your anger
3. Forgiveness does not mean the other person wins and you lose.
4. Forgiveness is not putting a smile on your face and saying everything is okay
5. Forgiveness is not going soft on something that is severely wrong.
6. Forgiveness does not mean you have to be the good guy while the bad guys skips away free
7. Forgiveness is not letting go of healthy forms of anger
8. Forgiveness is not lying down and becoming a human doormat.
9. Forgiveness is not pretending to go back to normal as if nothing happened.
10. Forgiveness is not allowing others to disrespect your needs and boundaries.
11. Forgiveness is not telling the one who has harmed you that the past does not matter
12. Forgiveness is not denying that you may have to live with the pain caused by the one who harmed you. AND LASTLY
13. Forgiveness is not agreeing to be best friends with the one who harmed you.
Some things that forgiveness DOES:
1. You will release any demand for restitution, especially if you have exhausted all reasonable efforts at restitution or restoration.
2. You choose to let go of any illusions that you might somehow control the wrongdoer’s life.
3. You will choose to give up any obsessions in regards to the wrongdoer, as you have better things to devote your attention to.
4. You will focus on rewarding relationships and pursuits.
5. You will stop looking in the mirror at what is in your wake and instead look forward to the new opportunities that await you.
6. You will give yourself permission to make choices that will lead you to contentment, peace and joy.
The choice of forgiveness will not eliminate your pain, nor does it mean that you will never feel emotions associated with the trespass that has been committed against you. What it does do is regardless of the trespass you have been made to endure, it enables you to refocus your energy, emotions and thoughts on the better plans of the future instead of remaining tied to the burdens of the past indefinitely.
Before we turn our attention to how healthy anger and forgiveness not only can co-exist, but actually go hand in hand, you must first answer the question
What does forgiveness mean to you?