You never have to forgive.


Because you can’t be forced to.  Let’s go over that again.  You, the person who got hurt, cannot be forced to let go of your pain.  You can hold onto the memory and the jagged edge of every bad thing that happened to you, and I mean it sincerely that you have a right to do that.

When other people get their sappy smiles and tell you to forgive whatever monster lived in your closet with a chain around your neck, tell ’em a story.  Whatever the worst thing you can say in a flat voice with no tears, that will send most do-gooders running with their tail between their legs.  Try not to cry. Some people who will tell you what you should do with pain are just waiting for tears before they swoop in and try to save you.  Most of the time, you won’t actually feel saved so much as used.

You got hurt.  You might be holding onto that pain as a way to remember and not make the same mistake.  The pain can also be used like an electric fence to keep people away and never face the same fears again.

But at some point, you look around and realize you are standing all alone holding a knife against your own throat and calling that safety.  Nobody can reach you.  You don’t ever let yourself forget the pain.  So there is no repeat of the old pain, except how you’re hurting yourself with it everyday.

People were not meant to be alone and constantly hurting themselves.  If this is you, there is a better way.  Here’s the kicker, you will have to forgive if you want that better way.  You cannot be forced into a decision that is so internal.  You must chose, of your own free will, to let go of your knife and your fence.

Don’t forgive to make someone else happy, it’s not real and you’ll resent so deeply it will be a festering wound.

Don’t forgive to tell an abuser that their actions were OK and you never really got hurt.  Forgiveness is an acknowledgement of how deep the pain really is and how badly the other person behaved.  Never deny your pain or pardon a person who has done nothing to earn that status.

Don’t forgive to look better at church or to feel accepted by a religious group.  Don’t poison your relationship with God to get closer to the other sinners.  This holds true whatever your higher power is and however good you feel about the other members of the group.

Don’t say the words when you’re just hoping that you’ll feel better immediately.  True forgiveness feels like crap at first.  It’s a painful process.  The only thing that makes it all worthwhile is how good you feel afterwards.  But do not lie to yourself.  This will hurt and you deserve the truth.

You also deserve a life that is bigger and better than whatever you are owed.  The person who hurt you owes you a debt.  To get something better, you will have to forgive that debt.  There is no room for the good things you deserve until you let go of what you are owed.  This is not just.  Forgiveness is showing mercy to yourself instead of asking for justice on those who have hurt you.  In the end, it is also a potential act of mercy on the hurtful.  That is where most people give up.  They would rather live in pain than be merciful to those who hurt them.

You can hold on to your pain and wait for the day that it can be used like a sword of justice.  But the chances of that day coming are slim.  Or, you can let go of the pain and get something better than justice.  Let mercy roll down and wash away your pain.

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