Forgiveness as Love

by Natalie Yuhas

 

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” CS Lewis

 

The importance of forgiveness is something that has been drilled into our heads over and over again for our entire lives, especially as Christians.  Normally, I have thought of myself as being a pretty understanding and forgiving person, but something I have struggled with lately is how to handle it when the person or people you love and completely trust really hurt you, especially when you never get the apology you wanted. 

Just saying the words “It’s ok” was not enough, because I knew that I didn’t think it was ok and that I was still feeling just as hurt.  In my mind, I didn’t have to actually forgive because my feelings were valid; I deserved to feel that way. I deserved to be upset.  But holding a grudge for so long slowly turned me into someone I hated.  I became angry, jealous, anxious, and insecure, which are things I definitely am not. Even further than that, it scared me how much I could get hurt and didn’t want to feel that way again, so I emotionally closed myself off to avoid getting hurt by anyone else in the future. But again, being emotionally detached was not me at all, and I found myself even more unhappy.

 

I realized that I didn’t deserve to feel that way at all.  I deserved to be happy and to fully experience all the love I am surrounded with every single day.  Not forgiving was robbing me of having the fullest relationships with the amazing people I’m so fortunate to have in my life. Being emotionally unavailable wasn’t doing me any favors in the long run because it just forced me to feel all the negative feelings I was hanging onto even more strongly.   

 

Once I understood that, I also realized that forgiving someone doesn’t mean that what they did was right.  It wasn’t “ok” for them to do whatever it was that hurt you, and it never will be “ok.”  Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you validate their actions. It means you realize that people are not perfect and that it is selfish and hypocritical to expect them to be.  I would never want to live in a world where people hold grudges every single time someone messes up.  No one would like each other.  We are all going to make mistakes and hurt someone, either intentionally or not, and it is not fair for anyone involved to hold on to hurt. 

 

Forgiveness is complex.  I’m definitely no expert on it, but I can say that I have come a long way from where I was a year, and even a few months, ago.  Forgiving has taught me how to love when it isn’t easy and about all the good things that come from choosing love, which is what my faith is to me at the very core.   

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