To Forgive or Not to Forgive?

Hello… it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to [read more on my blog].

I’d like to thank Adele for lending me her lyrics to open this post. It’s been literally years since I posted last, and didn’t quite know how to start today.

For any die-hards who are still following my musings, here’s one about forgiveness. It was a biggie for me.

I was thinking about forgiveness the other day. What does it mean? How is it fair? How can we forgive someone, if only to give ourselves peace after being taken advantage of or hurt in some way? How can starting from a place of forgiveness make a difference in our lives?

Here’s the thing… what if you lent money to someone? And s/he didn’t pay you back?

This happened to me a number of years ago. A friend of mine was in dire straits, and as much as I didn’t want to lend her the money (and it was a substantial amount – in the thousands), despite my gut instincts and better judgment, I did it anyway. She paid back a little at a time at first. Then the payments stopped. I asked her about them and she said she’d get back on track soon. Then, nothing. So I asked her again once her financial picture improved. She said I was being selfish, thinking only about myself and the money, and not about her. In the end, I didn’t get about 75% of the money back. Not only did I feel cheated, but I also felt disrespected and hurt.

I stewed about it for some time. I replayed the scenario over and over again. I caused myself undue stress about it. I finally realized this: I couldn’t change it – EVER. Was she worried about it? NO. Was it affecting my thoughts, stress levels, sleep, actions? YES.

So I decided to forgive the loan. Not her – the loan. I didn’t contact her to tell her. I just did it. In my head and heart. For myself. And no, I never spoke with her again.

All of a sudden I felt empowered. She – and her actions and attitude – no longer had any control over me. I was choosing what I would stand for, what I would accept in my life and what I would allow to influence my values, beliefs and actions.

Forgiveness did NOT mean that it was okay that she did what she did or treated me the way she treated me. It meant that I could stop wishing it had been different, that I wasn’t terribly hurt, that I hadn’t been taken advantage of.

Forgiveness simply meant that I could stop spending my good energy, thoughts and feelings on something bad – or, ironically, that I could stop throwing good money after bad.

I’m not saying that losing money to an ungrateful friend is akin to sexual assault, emotional abuse or other traumatic things that happen in our lives. Because I’ve had a few things happen in my own life that were worse than this example I’m giving today. I believe the same principles apply when you take emotion out of the equation.

I’m simply saying that forgiving something that someone did that is still controlling and negatively impacting your thoughts, feelings and actions doesn’t mean you forgive THEM – it means that you can finally write the EXPERIENCE off as a loss for which you’ll never be repaid, and take back control of your life.

You can then, with a more open heart, look to the people that love you, respect you, and support you going forward as you welcome opportunities for an unburdened, empowered, joyful life.

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