In the last of this three-part series, we’re considering a final way of villainizing others ends up hurting you:
Keeping someone in the villain role robs you of forgiveness.
Augh. The F-word. It’s an ambivalent word. A verb and a noun. An emotion and construct. It’s both necessary and complicated. It sounds so kind & lovely…until you have someone to forgive!
Most importantly, forgiveness has the power to heal both villain and victim.
You’ve likely heard it said that resenting someone is like drinking poison and waiting for them to die. It sounds ridiculous, yet the message is clear. When someone else does “wrong,” they likely don’t see it that way. In fact, while you walk in pain or bitterness, they probably live completely unaware of your emotions (or completely uninterested in them!).
I began this series with sharing a story from my own past, where I was blamed by others for something that was outside of my control. It was easier for them to point their fingers at me than to assess their own denial of the role they played. The truth is that I also had unforgiveness for years. I was hurt and angry. I’d felt alone despite years of asking for their help.
I disagree that “time heals all.” I know that time in itself does nothing. Rather it is what you do with the time that has the ability to heal. In the years since that horrible day, I’ve had to examine my own heart and role in that relationship. The process of forgiveness (as with most things worth doing) is “simple” but not “easy.”
I disagree that “time heals all.”
Time itself does nothing.
It's what you do in time that has the ability to heal.
Where do we begin? How do we shift from resentment to forgiveness?
It all starts with self-awareness.
When a wound is fresh, you’re likely so focused on the pain that you can’t see past it. As you gain some distance from the event, you’ll be better positioned to consider the role you have in your healing. A coach may be able to help you separate the facts from your thoughts about them. This process of exploring your thoughts will help you gain a perspective that better serves you.
Broaden your view.
I’ve found that the best way to broaden my perspective is by imagining what might have led the other person to the situation that occurred. We all know that hurt people hurt people. Imagining what their wounds may have been may help you increase empathy or understanding. This does not mean excusing the behavior, but rather; understanding how and why it may have happened.
Bring in the big love.
When the damage is small, it’s probably easy to forgive. But the deeper the injury, the tougher it may be imagine giving grace and forgiveness. The truth is, we’re not capable of loving deeply enough to cover others’ sins. Whether we acknowledge Him or not, only One can do that. Taking your broken heart to Jesus and asking for His power-living in you-to do the heavy lifting is imperative if you’re struggling to forgive.
Seek counseling if needed.
I once heard a pastor tell his congregation that they don’t need a therapist-they just need Jesus. While agree whole heartedly that Jesus is always the first place to run to and lean on, let me assure you: You can have Jesus and a counselor! God heals in many ways, including through people He equips to help you.
A therapist can point out if you may be trying to forget rather than forgive and may also help you process your pain in a way that allows it to be released rather than pried from that place of wounding.
One final thought when it comes to forgiving the hardest offense. Consider the word: forgive. Fore-give. Fore: Situated or placed in front. Before: The period of time preceding. One of the things I love about our Father is that he is more just, loving, and creative that my small human mind will ever be able to grasp.
He loves every one of us deeply. Even the person who has caused you harm emotionally or physically. His character is flawless. I know that I know that I know… Nothing will get by Him. He will make all things right in a way so loving, creative and just that I cannot comprehend—where His love is equal to his action.
Can I suggest that forgiving a person is the act of fore-giving them to God, trusting His character? This is no small feat.
I have found parenting to be a process of repeatedly giving my children over to God-trusting Him with their futures. …And then finding myself worrying again and in need of releasing them again to the Father who loves them even more than I can. Fore-giving the person who’s hurt you is much the same process.
These are not easy things. They will stretch you and grow you. They will test your faith and show your deepest-held beliefs about who God is. This is where He’ll meet you and heal your heart. De-villainizing others through forgiveness not only releases your pain but strengthens your faith. Don’t be afraid, friend. You’re in good hands.
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