When we are hurt, we have a choice of staying
a victim by keeping the wound open and sore
or finding a way of releasing ourselves so we can
heal and move on.
I don't remember what Brian did to get into trouble, but I do know it was something that required discipline. After passing sentence upon him, I went into the garage to do some work.
Soon the garage door opened, out strolled my little boy. He walked around the garage for a while without saying anything. Being quite vocal, I knew it would be a matter of time before he said something.
Sure enough, the silence was broken with, 'You know what you said in there? You were wrong!' To this I said, 'Brian, I don't think so. Besides, it looked like what you did before.' He looked up at me and said, 'What about all those sermons about forgiveness? About forgiving and forgetting the past - not bringing it up again?' The little fellow had been listening to my sermons and now was using them against me!
Talk about mixed feelings! Then what came out of his mouth was even more amazing. Brian added, 'If you ever want to be a holy man, you're going to have to learn how to forgive!
It is essential to learn to forgive because we cannot be in a relationship without being hurt, disappointed, or wounded by another person. When we are hurt, we have a choice of staying a victim by keeping the wound open and sore or finding a way of releasing ourselves so we can heal and move on.
Many of us stay a victim because we refuse to forgive others or ourselves. When we do this, we become a prisoner shackled to the event or person. It is like we are frozen in time. When we choose not to forgive, it is like running a vacuum hose from ourselves to the other person. Our energy, time and health is sucked through the hose. The unforgiving spirit poisons our spiritual, mental, and physical health as well as our other relationships. The harm we do to ourselves by refusing to forgive can be much greater than any wrong another person might inflict upon us.
One of the reasons we choose not to forgive is because of some myths about forgiveness.
- Myth: It is for the other party - the one that has inflicted the pain.
Truth: forgiveness is primarily for the health and well being of the injured.
- Myth: if we forgive it is excusing or approving what the other per- son did. It is letting him off scot free.
Truth: Forgiveness is not approval; it is releasing ourselves from being a prisoner to our wound.
- Myth: If we dwell on it, we are punishing the person who injured us.
Truth: We are only punishing ourselves.
- Myth: We cannot forgive the other person until he or she says they he or she is sorry or we see that he or she is remorseful and repentant.
Truth: We have made the other person in charge of our forgiveness and our healing.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700