By Eryka T. Johnson
Are you struggling to forgive? You desire to let it go and release the past but something about it does not feel right. It still happened and you still got hurt. But in today’s article, we will ease your mind by discussing how forgiveness is not giving approval of the hurt or accepting responsibility.
Oprah Winfrey has said some pretty amazing things about the subject of forgiveness over the years. In fact, I’ve heard her say that forgiveness is accepting that the experience happened and giving up the hope that the past could be differently. This is far from accepting responsibility for what happened.
Immediately, it makes me think that expectation has a great influence on whether or not we forgive or even how quickly we forgive. Many women have mentioned that it’s easier to forgive a stranger rather than someone who shows up in your life everyday like a family member. This is because you expect one thing from your family and possibly something else from a stranger. Either way, expectation is tied to your power to forgive. However, this is a totally different discussion from today’s topic.
So, let me focus here! Sorry, I can’t help myself because forgiveness is a powerful and necessary thing in order to live your best life. Moving on…
When you forgive, you are not giving away your power in the situation or even saying to the world that you accept responsibility for what happened. Rather, you are saying that you cannot change what happened but you certainly can determine how it will affect you moving forward. And, it took me a long time to gain this concept especially when faced with going through the process of forgiving 8 men who gang raped me while in college.
Everything in me wanted to hold back from forgiving. I felt I had the right to determine their fate in this matter. Besides, they intentionally hurt me although I cried out numerous times “NO” and “STOP”. I felt they did not deserve my forgiveness because a conscious decision was made by the group to continue which violated my will. How in the world could I forgive someone who consciously hurt me? The more I tried to hold on to my dignity, the more hurt I felt deep in my soul.
I was bleeding in the inside (not literally) because I desperately needed to have my thoughts changed about the entire situation. The change eventually came. In fact, I began feeling sorry for each of them. I guess it was the love and power of God.
Although my enemy tried to take everything away from me – my dignity, wholeness, peace of mind, femininity, and identity, he did not succeed in taking away my choice to forgive or even moving forward without the guilt.
When you are faced with forgiving, remember you are not giving approval for what happened or accepting responsibility. Rather, you are accepting what happened and making a conscious decision to move on with your life.
Have you ever like if you forgive you were giving approval of the hurt or accepting responsibility? Please respond and let me know.
Eryka T. Johnson