I’ve been holding on to this post for a while now. For some reason, it just never felt like the right time to post it. I take that back; allow me to be completely honest with you. It never felt right to me because I knew the accountability that would come along with it. I never like to post things that I’m not doing or don’t plan to do, and I’ve honestly had my fair share of bitterness and grudges attempting to come into my heart. But, as the guard of my heart, it’s up to me to decide what I will and won’t allow.
So, without further ado, I invite you to read along.
Raise your hand if you feel it’s necessary for the people who have hurt you to say they’re sorry! *raises hand*
Raise your hand if you’re waiting for someone to say they’re sorry! *raises hand again*
Raise your hand if you were hurt but never communicated your hurt yet are still awaiting an apology! *raises both hands*
I can’t tell you how often I’ve been in ALL of the categories above! On my journey to grow up I came face to face with the fact that I have been one that’s tried to overlook hurts by stuffing them down instead of speaking up. I’d never acknowledge them yet I still felt like the offender owed me an apology. An apology for a hurt they didn’t realize they participated in. It’s as though my hurt feelings came along with a sense of entitlement. Meanwhile, if I’ve not chosen to communicate my pain to the other person, what right do I have to expect them to apologize or even to state their case?
With that in mind, I’ve come to ask myself, why has it been so hard for me to communicate my pains and concerns to others? So, I’m working on being a better communicator of my feelings. I’m also working on giving others the benefit of the doubt. We all want to be innocent until proven guilty, and technically we are. So, what harm is it to extend the same grace that we ourselves crave? Stuffing my pain only leads to bitterness, resentment, and passive aggressiveness while never truly solving the problem at hand. Passive aggressiveness, for one, can lead to manipulation. And I despise the thought of being manipulative because, if I have to force the sorry—or anything for that matter, is it even worth it?
So, what happens if sorry never comes? Do we grow bitter, or do we forgive? I’ll let you in on a secret; bitterness has never healed anyone’s heart. 😉 To help you (and us because ME TOO) where forgiveness is concerned, I’d like to share some tips with you that have helped me to forgive—even if the other person never apologizes. This list is in no way exhaustive, so I encourage you to pray and ask God to help you find what works best for you! This is just a little something to get you started.
Remember THE GOOD.
Why is it so easy to remember the bad and to seemingly forget or dismiss the good? Maybe it’s because we haven’t spent enough time recalling and being thankful for the good! Let’s be honest here; I’m sure that we can all admit that when it’s come to doing life with our loved ones, we’ve experienced more good times than bad ones! Yet, how can we be so sure if when bad times present themselves, we’ve suddenly caught a case of amnesia?
Here’s how to remember the good: we can choose to celebrate every good time we’ve had. I have made it a point to keep a journal of everything, specifically days and moments that were good. I’ll admit that I’ve slacked a bit with this. But, due to the importance of my peace and wellbeing, I have come to rediscover the necessity of not only journaling what bugs me but intentionally journaling what’s blessed me, too!! In fact, why not more so the blessings? Not to dismiss the bad and the feelings that may have come along with it, but to give the bad less power!
When journaling said memories, I get specific. I write down the people involved, what happened, and what it meant to me. I make it a point to focus on the good of the moment and the person. The aspects and qualities that I make note of speak to the validity of the moment and the treasure and validity of the person’s character! When we’re intentional about journaling the good times, we’re, in essence, creating a repertoire of times worth remembering which is gold for me!
I don’t know about you, but the enemy has loved to set others up as enemies instead of friends. I’d find myself believing a lie based on feelings instead of reminding myself of their PROVEN character along with the sweet times we’ve shared. And now, since “it is WRITTEN” so that I can go back and READ and REMEMBER it for myself, I don’t have to fall for the accusations the “accuser of the brethren” comes spewing at me. #nottoday In sum, being intentional to remember the good has helped me to remind my heart and mind that this person isn’t my enemy.
STEP AWAY + BREATHE.
Take time to step away and breathe. Here’s the thing, it’s hard to accurately assess an issue when we’re standing right next to it. Because of that, it’s not a bad idea to release it by choosing to step away—for however long is necessary—and EXHALE the hurt and INHALE the love—for ourselves and for the other person. Exhale the pain and inhale peace along with what you know to be true of them and the relationship. Repeat as needed.
As we step away from the problem and breathe, we allow our hearts and minds the atmosphere necessary to reassess. Instead of jumping to the assumptions and conclusions that more than likely don’t favor what we know to be true of the other person, we’re giving ourselves the needed space and time to see things differently. We’ll find that their heart was not to hurt us. Most times, the hurts we endure from others are not intentional. Especially when it comes to those who love us!!
A few years ago I learned an exercise that has helped me so much. When I am angry or anxious or need something to keep my mind off of hurt, I count out loud to 100. If I’m still upset, I count again, and I count until I’m at peace. I encourage you to give it a try!
We don’t have to forget the hurt completely, but maybe instead of holding onto and focusing on its sting, we can make a lesson out of it. There’s something to be learned in just about everything; ask yourself what you can learn from the hurt. If nothing can be learned, I encourage you to forget about it. This is probably easier said than done, but I’ll throw this at you: if there’s nothing of value that can be taken from it, is it worth holding on to?
Just like I won’t touch a hot stove because I don’t want to burn myself, maybe I shouldn’t replay the moment that hurt me, which will only leave me hurting myself even more.
TALK IT OUT.
Remember how I said I needed to work on my communication skills? Well, I’ve learned that it’s okay to communicate my pain and concerns. I thought it was bad to talk about the things that bothered me for some reason, and I felt that it would cause the relationship to end. I WAS SO WRONG! Lately, I’ve been intentional about sharing my heart with my friends. I make it a point to let them know when something bothers me. It’s only caused us to grow, which completely squashes the lie I’d believed for so long! #thankGod!
When you choose to open up about what hurt you—in a way that communicates your pain without pointing blame—the other person will most likely hear you out. More often than not, you may find that it was all a misunderstanding. No matter the case, at least it’s out in the open and not left to fester or turn into bitterness.
We were meant to grow, and it can be hard to grow when we refuse to move. This doesn’t mean that your hurt doesn’t matter. This also doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to feel hurt. Feel what you feel. Process it. And don’t rush it. I’m well aware that healing takes time. But once you’ve applied any or all of the above, you may find that it’s a little easier to let things go. You may find that your estimation of the hurt compared to the value of the relationship isn’t worth holding on to. But whenever you’re ready to, please do move on and love again. It’s the healthy thing to do! 🙂
Forgiveness can be hard to do, I get it. I’m honestly working through things in my life. But, here’s the thing, it’s doable. And we don’t forgive to set the other person free, forgiveness is for US! As with life, we can take forgiveness one day at a time one step at a time. It all boils down to this question: how free do we want to be? I’ll admit that I’ve had—and still have to—ask myself this question DAILY. Just know that healing is possible but it starts with you—and me too. I pray that this encourages you. Please comment below; I’d love to hear from you!