Your happiness is directly related to your decision to forgive.
I know, that’s an entire can of worms that nobody likes to hear, but it’s absolutely true. In my quest for a happier, more balanced life, there are two things that keep coming up over and over that simply can’t be ignored: gratitude is one, and forgiveness is the other. I’ve discussed gratitude in the past, so there’s no need to rehash it. Forgiveness, however, is always a timely topic. Disappointment and betrayal are part of life, and if we don’t learn how to glean wisdom from them without being held back by anger, then we’re seriously stunted in our spiritual development.
I think forgiveness is a tough beast to tackle because hurt isn’t an easy thing to work through. Dealing with the imperfections of life is hard enough when they rear their head on a day to day basis, but when the hurt comes from people we know and trust, it’s different. The truth is that people tend to get tunnel vision and do what works best for them, and they often don’t consider how their words and/or actions affect others. Self centeredness is something that affects us all, and as a result, people get hurt. What’s best for us may not be best for others. It may hurt them like hell, tear their world apart, and cause them grief and pain that they don’t deserve. Likewise, you may or may not get an apology. Maybe they didn’t mean to hurt you, and they’re sorry. Maybe they’re only sorry to get caught, and would do it again in a minute, but take steps to shield themselves from you if they had a do-over. Maybe they don’t think they didn’t do anything wrong, and they believe you need to get over it. The truth is that we live in a world full of varying morals and ideals. Some people hold to them, some only give them lip talk but don’t really walk the walk, and some hold to nothing at all. Everybody doesn’t want to walk with Jesus. That’s the thing about our gift of free will. You can be a self-centered jerk by accident and repent, or you can do it on purpose and say “oh well.” While you do reap what you sow in this world in ways you may or may not realize for what they are, the ultimate judgement of all things comes after we die – and nobody knows how that goes, at least on this side of life.
The Lord’s Prayer is that we are forgiven as we forgive. That’s scary, because we all know that we need grace, but we struggle to extend it to others because we don’t want to get hurt. I think this is what got me to thinking that I needed to do something about shaving the chip off my own shoulder. I didn’t want to be angry or bitter over things that had passed. I had my lessons, and I wanted to move forward. It took me many years to realize that I couldn’t move into my future until I let go of my past.
I saw something on social media once that said “sometimes you have to forgive people for being an idiot.” Perhaps that’s a bit harsh, but at it’s core, it’s true. Apologies don’t always come, so there’s no use staying in bondage with the offender has moved on. And if they did apologize, then it’s on you to grant the grace of truly extending the forgiveness. Sometimes, we have to accept that people don’t know any better. That they don’t realize what they’ve done, and don’t have the capacity to see it the way you do.
We also have to be honest about our own bias, and realize that we like some people better than others, and therefore are more willing to forgive them more than people who aren’t in our “inner circle” or, more likely, are prone to aggravate you on a regular basis anyway. We tend to bend things to justify our beliefs. This is a point I keep coming across while writing The Earthside Trilogy – human beings are extremely adept at perceiving reality in a way that conforms with our beliefs, until something shocking happens that can’t be denied anymore. Reality always catches up with us, but boy can we run! It’s like chasing a chicken. It’s not easy to catch a running chicken, but once you do, they’re done. So it is with running from reality. You can run, but you can’t hide, and when it catches you – ouch.
If you want to be truly happy, you must be willing to forgive, and it starts with an active decision to do it, followed by action to change your thoughts from protection and anger to wisdom and courage. It’s the ultimate form of grace and love, and it frees you to the abundant blessings. Yes, some things are easier to forgive than others. Yes, there are some offenses that seem impossible to forgive because they require a long, painful process. Yes, sometimes we have to forgive ourselves for our own failings. It’s a complex issue, but once you admit where you stand with forgiveness and decide to embrace it, then you open yourself to receive the blessings and prayers that have eluded you for so long.
It’s a journey I’m starting, and it’s an odd one. In some ways, it’s hard. It isn’t easy to face anger in yourself. In others, it’s a tremendous relief to realize that people and offenses from your past have no authority over your present or future. I’ve been much happier since embarking on it, though, and it’s a journey worth taking.
If forgiveness is something on your heart to deal with, I encourage you to check out two excellent books on it and what it truly means. They are How to Forgive When You Don’t Feel Like It, by June Hunt, and Let It Go - Forgive So You Can Be Forgiven By T.D. Jakes. Both helped me tremendously in understanding forgiveness, getting to the root of the anger it causes, and moving on.
I will post that review of Wool this weekend, so stay tuned for that. I just had one more thing on happiness on my heart that I felt prompted to share with you today.
That’s all today. Take care. Have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a wonderful weekend.