Probably one of the hardest things to do is forgive someone who hurt you. In my many years as a therapist and pastoral counselor I’ve helped people struggling with divorce, grief, recovery, and victimization of sexual abuse. They all shared horrific stories about someone who hurt them in ways most of us find terrifying. It leaves an individual with wounds so close to the surface of who they are they quickly break down at the mere hint of the painful event. The emotional reaction is often anger, depression, or fear. There is no doubt in my mind sin continues to impact the human condition every time I enter into the sacred space of the counseling room and engage in a conversation with a suffering soul.
A consequence of being wounded is the fact the pain we feel is often inflicted on those close to us. I am not saying it’s intentional, but it seems the hurt we carry within us causes us to wound others. The women emotionally abused by an alcoholic parent has difficulty making herself vulnerable to her husband. Without a comfortable sense of vulnerability one cannot truly love others. The child abused by his father grows up believing the only thing anyone wants to do is beat him down. He believes he must lash out at others before they strike him. We perpetuate the wounds we experience because it’s too much pain to carry around alone and it needs to come out somehow.
Overcoming this pattern of hurt requires forgiveness. Forgiveness is necessary for many reasons, but I want to focus on its power to stop the wounds we experience from impacting those we should (and can) love. If we can look at those who hurt us in a forgiving way we have a chance to stop the wounds we carry from becoming wounds in others. That requires a great deal of spiritual effort and many of us are not prepared to engage in such grueling and demanding disciplines, but it’s not an impossible task. It takes courage to forgive, a spiritual and psychological courage transcending our very nature, but one any of us can do with the proper guidance. It means we can only truly forgive by trusting God will be with us through the process.
If you’re interested in learning how to be a forgiving person this site can help you do that. Through direction, guidance, patience and a commitment to live your life in a passionately loving and merciful way you can become an agent of forgiveness. In the next few posts I will share some techniques and concepts to help you escape from the prison of anger and pain to the freedom of forgiveness.