April 5, 2016

Forgiveness = Reclaiming Power

A few weeks back, I wrote a bit about forgiveness. And it got a lot of response.

This is a continuation of that post, which you can read here.

I wrote about how a few years ago my counselor, Swede, had me write a letter to my offender to “let it fly”. And then, after that, he asked me to write a second letter – but, this time, to include something about forgiveness.

Well, for this second letter, I followed the same pattern as the first time around and headed to the coffee shop to sit outside and type out a letter (which I had no intent to send).

As I began to type, I reiterated very clearly what I was angry about (as I’d just discovered) and how this guy’s actions had affected the last 20 years of my life.

And then I got to forgiveness. I mentioned it. In the letter, I even said, “My counselor wants me to forgive you. And I don’t want to. You don’t deserve it and you haven’t asked for it. But, forgiveness isn’t for you. In fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with you. It’s for me. It means that I am letting go of what you did. And, as such, your actions no longer carry any power or control over my life whatsoever.”

There was more to it, but that’s the gist.

And that’s what forgiveness is. Forgiveness isn’t about saying, “Oh, no problem, it’s okay.” Obviously, his actions are still not okay. The major difference, though, is that I am completely free from his actions. They have nothing to do with me.

Which brings up another point.

We give others so much control over our lives. As Swede always said to me, “Others only have as much control over you as you give them permission to have.”

It’s easy for me to get frustrated with jerk drivers on the road when they cut me off. That is, if I give them that power. In reality, they don’t cost me more than a fraction of a second. I have the option of choosing to not be bothered, which results in me being a happier person.

For some reason, we care about what people think of us, we want to feel approved, and we allow others’ actions to impact our lives and how we feel.

That is, if we choose to.

So, as Swede asked me to forgive, in regard to my offender, I realized that I could choose to a) let go of any claim to the actions of another, choose to heal and to live a really great life that I was meant to live (i.e. control my mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being) OR, to b) be angry about something someone else did and choose to be a victim (i.e. be controlled by something of which I have zero control).

I chose option a.

When you forgive, it does not mean that the person is any less guilty. It also doesn’t mean you have to be best friends. (whew!) 🙂

What it means is that you no longer stake claim in their guilt, their actions no longer have control over your life, and you are now free to move forward, to heal, and to live a fulfilling life. <– (um, yes please!)

Maybe writing a letter isn’t for you. That’s totally cool. But, I would encourage you to choose to forgive, because your life is far too precious to be spent being angry about someone else’s actions, of which you have zero control.

What you do have control over is what you do today and each day that follows. I encourage you to choose forgiveness, healing, and a life that rocks.

I encourage you to choose option a.  🙂

-Matt

You may also find interest in this blog post:  I Am Not A Victim

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