I will begin by quoting a verse from our blessed book of St. Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may forgive you your trespasses”. Forgiveness is not a “feeling” but a “choice”! The choice does not belong to anyone but yourself. When we reflect on those who have caused harm towards us, it may not be simple to forgive your offender immediately. Initially, you may experience significant emotional pain and disbelief that another human being can cause you this type of distress. That emotional pain is understandable, valid, and may be warranted. However, when you experience this type of pain for a long period of time, who suffers? Prior to taking the steps towards forgiveness, it is necessary to release your emotional pain in a healthy manner.
Submit your pain to God in prayer
Express your pain to a trusted individual or mental health professional
If you enjoy writing, journal about your pain
Creative expressions through art, music, dance, etc.
Join a support group
After you have successfully expressed your emotional pain in a healthy approach, take some time to reflect on the circumstances that led to the offense against you. Has it occurred to you that your offender may be experiencing their own challenges, past hurt, mental illness, relationship issues, or core beliefs that may have been the source of their behavior? I want to fully disclose that whatever the reason for the offense, it does not excuse the undesired behavior, however it may be a place just to gain some insight. Externally, your offender may appear healthy, however without gaining a greater understanding of their past experiences, negative core beliefs, or other factors, it may be more challenging to forgive him/her.
How do you envision yourself feeling after giving yourself permission to forgive your offender? Maybe feelings of relief, happy, content, peaceful… I cannot help but to think of late Pope John Paul II’s situation when he was shot by his assassin and how he went to visit his perpetrator at the jail cell to tell him that he is forgiven. His actions were exactly what God wants us to do as He forgave us for our sins and died on the Christ for our salvation. Our Almighty God knows everyone of us and has chosen to ALWAYS forgive us for our sins! We must emulate God “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.