I know I’m not the only one who hears a name from years gone by, or has a memory of something that really stung that triggers emotional pain, despite the distance from the event.

I often require mindfully forgiving someone so I don’t find myself nursing a grudge. I remember when I first started connecting with old friends on Facebook and someone from elementary school friend-requested me. My first reaction was, “are you kidding me? What you said to me in the 5th grade still stings?”

When I can consciously stop to think about it, I realize that was a ten-year-old child who behaved so poorly, and after 40 years, I need to let go of that hurt. The person who friend-requested me is not the child who made fun of me.

We can have these triggers when we think about people who shaped us as children; it might be a parent, teacher, pastor, or someone we trusted, who said or did things that had lasting adverse effects. Have you ever thought, “if my parent had been more in touch with what I needed, if they had encouraged or protected me, I would have made much better life choices?” Something as simple as that can be a source of resentment unless we step back and realize how old or unqualified the offending person was at the time of the wound.

Why do we allow negative or even resentful emotions to hitchhike onto memories?

Forgiveness starts with a decision:
“I am choosing to forgive, move on or let go,” so that something that happened in the past does not bear weight or bring further discord in my life.

One of the ways we can step into forgiveness is to mentally go back to the scenario and look at it from our current perspective. Think about someone with whom you are still at odds. Can you let yourself go back in time to see where they were at that time in life? Everyone was less mature, that is a fact. No one had the wisdom that exists today. We all need consideration for forgiveness, even if forgiving requires a protective boundary from future wounds.

Forgiveness is often a difficult and painful decision. It means letting go of your right to be hurt and angry. However, not to forgive has been linked to the concept of drinking battery acid and expecting it to hurt the other person. There have been times when I have found forgiveness to be almost impossible. If that is the case in your life, I suggest you let it be a process. Start with,“I am willing to be willing to forgive.” That is not forgiveness, but it is a step in the right direction. If you are willing to be willing, that is a start.

Forgiveness is for you,
not forgiving breeds illness.

If you have received Christ’s forgiveness, you can forgive, but don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t come easily. Don’t beat yourself up for the flesh that houses your spirit. Agree that ‘I am willing to be willing,’ and direct your heart in the right direction. It is the people who say, “I am never going to forgive,” that are poisoning themselves emotionally along with those in their sphere of influence.

Consider having the intention to forgive, even if it’s not something you can do right now.

Try to imagine the age or circumstances of the wounding party. Might everyone have changed?

We all need grace, we need to give it, and we need to receive it. We need to recognize we are all sinners and not hold others to standards we cannot maintain ourselves.

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Mark 11:25

and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Matthew 6:12

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 3:23

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