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The Importance of Forgiveness

by rlnnet

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When you spend your priceless moments forgiving instead of holding a grudge, you will become more powerful and more importantly, you will be happier. ~rln

The subject of forgiveness is one of my favorite topics. Who has not been in a situation that requires forgiving someone? In my opinion, when you choose not to forgive and, more importantly, choose not to forgive quickly, you might as well drink a cup of poison every day of your life until you make the selfish choice to forgive. Yes, true forgiveness is selfish. It seems odd to say, but when you choose to forgive, you are acting in your best interest. Of course the other person benefits from your actions; however, you are the person receiving the most benefit. When I finally realized that forgiveness has nothing to do with another person—that forgiveness is a gift that keeps on giving to Self, I was sold.

Let me share a few personal stories. While growing up I witnessed a lot of behaviors that taught me how I was supposed to act if I felt slighted or wronged. None of the behaviors I observed were an immediate act of forgiveness. When my mother and father argued, their behavior was always followed by what I called “punishment.” My father would give my mother the “cold shoulder” and not speak to her for days. Honestly, looking back, I did not know there were other choices I could have made. It was not until I met my now ex-husband that I learned that a couple was supposed to “talk out” their problems and “never go to bed angry”. My husband might as well have been speaking a foreign language when he explained this to me. Not only did I find the concept of working problems out a problem in itself, but believed that any type of compromise was a sign of weakness!

During my most impressionable years I witnessed my father and his only brother ostracize each other for over more than a decade. They had a falling out over how to manage an apartment building they both owned. Over the years I have since realized the real problem was not how they needed to manage the apartment building, but how they managed their relationship. I believe, in most families, the real problems are unresolved issues that may have arisen during childhood.

I recall a grandmother who banished her son because of the woman he chose to marry. All of my life I have watched mothers, fathers, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins, engage in “you’re dead to me” behavior. So, it is understandable I adopted the same type of social skills.

Yes, I have indulged in off-and-on relationships with people for years. Childhood friends, relatives, in-laws, co-workers, boyfriends, students, the list is quite extensive. I honestly did not know that: (1) I could choose a different type of behavior than the one I learned early in my life, and (2) I was harming myself both physically and emotionally with my behaviors. Just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, I had the power to create whatever type of relationship I wanted, but I did not know that…until now.

A year before my father died, my mother disinherited me for reasons she believed were just, and chose not to speak to or see me for years. Interestingly enough, even though I remain disinherited, we speak to each other almost every day. I make it a point to end every conversation with a heartfelt, “I love you, Mommy!” Have you ever heard of a child who was disinherited and kept the lines of communication open with the parent who disinherited them? I have not. It is really simple: If I choose to harbor bad feelings, I am choosing toxic behavior. I have never known toxic behavior to result in anything good. Have you?

Forgive As Fast As You Can: For most people a decision to forgive comes, if ever, at the end of a long emotional journey that may stretch over months, if not years. I will admit, for the majority of my life, forgiving was not on my “things to do” list. However, when I found out the truth about the benefits of forgiveness, I began practicing the skill immediately. I was able to forgive my mother years before she was able to forgive me, because when you do not actively practice the skill of forgiveness, you are not able to forgive quickly. Like any other skill, if you do not practice on a regular basis, you get rusty. When you are rusty, you lose the ability to make different choices.

I practice forgiveness on a daily basis. I am committed to keeping my skill-set high. After all, I have been blessed with countless people I had to forgive at one time or another. It took me a while to believe, without any doubt, the overwhelming evidence that forgiveness is a required ingredient of true happiness. If you want inner peace and contentment, or just to grow as a person, you must master this skill. Mastering the skill of forgiveness takes you to another level of spirituality.

Whether you believe Jesus was the son of God or whether you believe Jesus did not exist, you cannot ignore the story of the biggest example of forgiveness that has ever been told. While alive, Jesus taught forgiveness. During his last hours of life, Jesus was forgiveness. I am sure you recognize this important quote from the Bible; Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Have you ever thought about how powerful that statement really is? Can you imagine how anyone, man or woman, has the ability in the moment, while nailed to a cross, being tortured, mocked, and slowly and unmercifully executed, to utter those words? An act of forgiveness at such a crucial moment seems impossible to comprehend; however, without forgiveness, you have sentenced yourself to internal hell.

How to Instantly Forgive: Since I have learned the skill of forgiveness the hard way, I have learned several facts. I have also discovered strategies that will aid you on your quest to be able to forgive anyone for anything.

Seven Facts about Forgiveness: 1) You make a choice to forgive 2) You make a choice not to forgive 3) You cannot pick and choose which behaviors to forgive…ALL circumstances fall under the heading of forgiveness 4) Forgiving is health food for your Soul and 5) Forgiving is contagious 6) Forgiveness does not require words or a physical meeting 7)Forgiveness is an actual energy that you emit.

When You Are Challenged: When you are given opportunities to forgive remember this: Whatever has happened, never take a “slight” personally. This is a really tough concept, but one that is necessary to grasp. How many times have you been angry because of how someone else drove in traffic? It is easy to get angry with someone who just cut you off in traffic; however, there is more than one way to interpret the same incident. Maybe the driver had received a phone call informing him that a loved one was just rushed to the hospital. Would you be forgiving of his driving behaviors if you knew those were the circumstances? I know I would.

Let us say your forgiveness skills are at best rusty, or at worst non-existent. There is hope. Remember, you will not be able to pick and choose your circumstances, but you will be able to choose a different behavior than what you are used to. On February 21, 2013, I was in New York City. It was my only son’s twenty-eighth birthday, and while he worked I decided to visit the 9/11 Memorial. I was in awe of the surroundings. From my perspective the site exuded peace, growth, and the resilience of man. Before my eyes I witnessed the undeniable Universal Law of Cause and Effect. There is never a cause without an effect. Is it possible to forgive nineteen terrorists who brought death and destruction to thousands on that day? Only YOU can answer that question. What I do know is this; whether you chose to practice forgiveness or whether you chose not to practice forgiveness, you will be choosing how you will be affected in your lifetime.

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