The past month at work has been a roller coaster of emotions. All of it stemmed from an incident that was beyond my control but which those who were affected by it felt I was still at fault. While I am confident and have proof that I did nothing wrong and did all in my power to remedy the situation, it was unsatisfactory to the others’ liking. In the end, every insult was hurled in my direction, albeit behind my back and in my new boss’s face. What hurt most for me (hence the roller coaster of emotions) was that only a few short weeks ago, these same individuals praised me and even told me I was like a second mom to them for having taken care of them. You can imagine my hurt now as I hear them falsely accuse me of doing wrong. It was very painful to listen to these accusations being presented and without proof of their reality, but in the end those with authority over my position were able to find a solution and make all involved somewhat happier… except me.
At the end of the day, my supervisor (a fellow Believer) simply told me that I had to pray for the others who persecuted me unjustly and learn to forgive them. He pointed to not only Scripture, but also psychological research. Simply put, he told me that forgiveness has great power to heal for both the one needing forgiveness and the one forgiving the wrong done. Although I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the ongoing issue, I knew that mulling over the negative experience and hurts would do me no good. As I started looking for a topic for my monthly blog post, I kept thinking about the concept of forgiveness being a way of healing oneself. Oddly enough, I discovered that it really is true.
Diane Cole wrote about this very subject in The Wall Street Journal (I know, right? WSJ talking about healing and forgiveness?). Cole stated that as we age, our values and perceptions change too, and we also find ourselves reflecting back on the past. For some, it begins because retirement is just around the corner. For others, self-reflection happens because our current state of mind and living have become unhealthy and we run the risk of shortening our lives. Whatever the case may be, Cole’s article impressed upon me the idea of the healing power of forgiveness (see http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-healing-power-of-forgiveness-1458525864 for the full article).
Forgiveness could be seen as an alternative position, especially when the other party does not feel remorse over their actions. Cole stated that this, especially among women, is seen as “acceptance” of the situation and by moving forward we alleviate ourselves from the negative thoughts and replace them with a more positive attitude. One study cited in the article stated that depression in woman is also eased when the individual practices a great deal of forgiveness. The final healing power of forgiveness was unexpected benefits one gains from its very practice. A person who forgives past hurts by addressing the source has not only done something very brave by putting themselves out there, but has also created an opportunity to make good and opened themselves up to cleansing and healing through the release of negativity that resided in them for longer than it should have.
So what does it all mean? While we can’t control the actions, words, or attitudes of those who hurt us deeply, we can control our reactions, our responses, and our own attitudes. Namely, we can be the bigger person and forgive those who hurt us. Thinking about it another way, holding onto the hurt and anger only hurts myself since the one who hurt me is not feeling the same way. I only cause harm to myself instead. By forgiving the wrongs and the person who wronged me, I am setting myself on a path for healing. It is a healing that I have power and control over IF I choose to let go. As I write this blog post, I am already feeling better knowing that the truth was already revealed and that I have no guilty conscience since I did nothing wrong. Forgiving the ones who continue to choose to hurl false accusations and insults at me for trying to help them will free me of the negativity they hope I am feeling. Tonight I sit with my cup of tea and breathe in the peace and healing that comes with forgiveness of self and others.
Pull up a chair and let the healing power of forgiveness seep into your bones and reflect. Is there someone you need to forgive? What situation needs the healing power of forgiveness in your own life? Comment in the space provided.
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