The Power of Forgiveness

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“HI Kim, before you just hit delete, let me just say I am so sorry for causing our breakup.”

To say that I was stunned to receive this letter in my Facebook inbox just days ago is an understatement. We had a terrible breakup almost 13 years ago that was so unexpected, it almost shattered my soul.  The sentence from this man began a plea for forgiveness that left me feeling discombobulated.

As I sat in stunned silence reading this letter, the first reaction that came to my mind was “what possible motive does this man have for writing me?”  The next reaction was anger and a flash of pain.  I asked God how I should respond (or if I should respond at all). Then, I remembered that I’d already forgiven him years ago. So why was I feeling this way?

Forgiveness is not something to be taken lightly.  We tend to say “I forgive you” with good intentions and all the while the wound is still there—along with the anger and pain that goes along with it.  Often, forgiveness is withheld because of our stubborn refusal to give him/her a “pass” that we feel they don’t deserve.  That, ladies, is one of THE biggest lies we can ever tell ourselves.  Forgiveness is for US—the wounded party.  It releases us from having to carry the weight of bitterness upon our shoulders—shuffling it from one area of our lives to the next.

The pain caused by this man was unspeakable—we had a great relationship.  He gave me a beautiful Christmas and New Years and then broke up a few days later for another woman–whom he then allowed to call me to rub it in.  We were all students at the time.  I had to hold my back straight, head up, and push through the humiliating devastation.

As the fog cleared a few months later and just before I started dating again, I made a conscious choice to forgive them both.  But when I received that message a few days ago, I had to re-examine myself.  That flash of anger really bothered me because I’d put that chapter of my life behind me.  There was a part of me that didn’t know how to respond or, if I wanted to give him the “satisfaction” of KNOWING that I forgave him—and therein lies the rub.  Then, I thought of Matthew 18:22 which states that we are to forgive someone seventy TIMES seven times a day.  That seems impossible in the literal sense but think about this:  when someone has REALLY hurt you, how often do you think about how rotten they are as you cry your way through the day?  How many times do friends and family hear about it in one day?

After this man hurt me, I walked pass him in hallways as though he didn’t exist, rejected emails, changed my phone number, and pretended not to hear him if he tried to speak to me.  Then, I graduated and moved on with my life.

So now, he’s ASKING for forgiveness in this lengthy message he sends and I’m trying to decide if he DESERVES to know I’ve already forgiven him.  After mulling it over and praying about it I closed my eyes.  I asked myself “if you ran into him today, would you be able to look him in the eyes and not feel pain and rage?  Can you look him in the eyes and still feel peace?”   That is when I realized my forgiveness was real and I needed to also tell him and give him the release he was seeking.  His ‘motives’ – that monster I was attempting to use as an excuse—became totally irrelevant.

I don’t know what he’s going through but it compelled him to reach out for his own healing.  If I believe my own words “every life touches a life” then who am I to deny that?  I was free before, but this experience made me freer than I ever thought possible.  Release yourself, bolder sisters—forgive, release, and breathe!

Bolder sisters, have you experienced the power of forgiveness?  How did it free you?

IMG_3940Kim Woods earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems at DeVry University.  She developed a love for writing poetry and short stories as a child.  Kim is socially conscience and her desire to use her life experiences to help others is what drives her to seek opportunities to share her story.  She decided to write freelance for the Bolder Sister because it is her desire that women evolve and thrive in their own authentic truth.

Kim resides in Chicago, Illinois and has one son, Donald.  In addition to writing, she spends free time creating unique wall art, decorating, and teaching herself how to sculpture.

5 thoughts on “The Power of Forgiveness

  1. Thanks for sharing your story Kim! Forgiveness is sometime a REALLY hard pill to swallow..but I learned that it was less stressful (emotionally) for ME to forgive and move on. The fact that I never ‘forget’ may lead some people to assume I haven’t actually forgiven BUT not forgetting is my own way of being mindful not to get too emotionally involved too soon.

    1. I also agree with you Yolanda on not forgetting what happened even though you have forgiven the person. The memory – which needs to be balanced and useful – is there to remind us of what we came through with renewed strength and dignity, and also to help others later who might be dealing with something similar. As they say, ‘sharing is caring’ in many ways.

    2. Great point Yolanda and I’m glad you mentioned that! I think people make that type of assumption because they don’t understand how forgiveness works. It doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten what happened. It means that you can REMEMBER what happened and not have it affect YOU. That’s what makes forgiveness so hard for us. It’s confused with “I’m giving him a pass” verses “I have to set MYSELF free of this anger and pain.”

  2. Kim, I agree that when true forgiveness occurs, the offender’s motives are completely irrelevant and this can be the ‘test’ to see if you have actually dealt with the pain/anger and gotten rid of it successfully. Thank you for being real and on time!

  3. Great point Yolanda and I’m glad you mentioned that! I think people make that type of assumption because they don’t understand how forgiveness works. It doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten what happened. It means that you can REMEMBER what happened and not have it affect YOU. That’s what makes forgiveness so hard for us. It’s confused with “I’m giving him a pass” verses “I have to set MYSELF free of this anger and pain.”

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