Just a few years ago, I was the girl who didn’t know how to let go. I would hold grudges and the only person that seemed to suffer each day was me. Each day that I didn’t let go, it would cloud my vision, making me feel weak and miserable. During that period, the worst parts of me got the best of me.
The difficulty with being in a negative space is it often becomes easy to play the victim in your story and distances you from forgiveness.
Forgiving does not mean we are weak, stupid, timid or too afraid to fight our own battles. It simply means you decided not to suffer anymore. According to one definition, forgiveness is “the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well”. There are obviously many other definitions, but the key element is that forgiveness is a process. You cannot change your feelings without letting go of the negative connotations that the pain caused. Similarly, you cannot forgive but remain bitter or wish terrible things against your offender. You have to pass each step to finally reach forgiveness.
I like to think that forgiveness is for you, not the other person. Forgiveness is not for the weak because it will test you. A red carpet is never rolled out for you to walk on just because you chose to take the high road and forgive. In my experiences, I have found that it is the complete opposite. You are likely to feel worse the first time you decide to forgive someone but then if you are dedicated to your choice, it does get better. However, you must remember that just because you mastered forgiveness in one situation, doesn’t guarantee that the next time will be easy. As Lupita Nyongo stated in her speech at the Massachusetts Conference for Women on ‘overcoming challenges’, “it doesn’t get comfortable, but it does get familiar.”