The Struggle With Forgiveness

There are lots of times when someone does something to you that hurts emotionally or physically. It can be abuse by someone you know, by a parent, by a spouse. It can be a painful experience delivered on you by a complete stranger and many of those experiences are severe, life-changing, and even criminal. Forgiveness is talked about as if it’s as easy as a decision, an illuminated ‘thought’ that suddenly releases you from hostility, hatred, resentment and emotion. It’s seldom that easy.

What about the victim who is viciously attacked in a parking lot by a stranger who later goes to jail? There’s a serious crime, probably a lifetime of physical and or emotional scars, and an identity of the perpetrator. How do you arrive at forgiveness for that?

One of the keys is the separation of the person from the crime. 

One way to do that is work on the realization that the attack or damage was not personal. Think about it: In most cases, if you’d come along a minute sooner, or a minute later, the perpetrator of your damage would have exacted their viciousness on someone else.  And afterward, never thought about you again.  If someone took advantage of you, figure they would have victimized the person they encountered before or after you. You were just in their view at the worst possible time.

It’s what they do. They are ruined, broken people and they see other people as targets for their rage, violence, or as a resource to be plundered. (As in the case of a mugger or someone who uses people for gain.)

As long as you attach your trauma to a person who didn’t even care, it prevents you from truly healing, and releasing the hate in your heart.

It’s like hating (and not forgiving) a Tornado or Lightning bolt.

When you realize that the perpetrator or your damage is hard-wired to do that. Did it before, did it to you, and is out there doing it still, you realize that hatred and resentment might as well be lodged in HATING and resenting a tornado or lightning strike.

Those forces of nature just ARE. They don’t think about who they strike, or who they damage. They just do.

The lightning bolt ‘knows not, what it does.’ it is a dumb, thoughtless thing going about it’s harmful business. And that is what your abuser is.

How many people can’t forgive a lightning bolt? How many people walk around with hatred burning in their hearts for a tornado? They don’t because the lightning bolt ‘knows not, what it does.’ it is a dumb, thoughtless thing. And that is what your user is. Broken, ignorant and hard-wired to harm others, or function at the expense of others, without care or concern. Like a lightning bolt.

Once you separate the person from the crime, and realize that the person is irrelevant, you can probably grieve the damage. But as long as the grief is anchored in a person you cannot repay, you’re held down.

Forgive the damage and grieve it, but forget the person. The person has already forgotten you. Never gave you a thought to begin with. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Stop looking at the person with emotion because their damage was without emotion or concern for you in particular.

Then set about dealing with the aftermath and damage. For this author, it’s finding help to process through the known stages of grief.

The 5 stages of grief and loss are: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance.  People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.

You may find that you got through several stages already and are hung up on stage 2. Anger.  Maybe your life is plagued by Anger and Depression and you can’t move into acceptance as long as you’re attaching all that Hate and Anger to someone who doesn’t even care, and doesn’t even matter any more.

Read this about the Five Stage of Grief and Loss.