If your birth experience was traumatic, I’m sure you weren’t expecting it to turn out that way. You had foreseen giving birth to a healthy baby, but maybe your baby is not totally healthy. Perhaps your precious baby had to be in the neonatal intensive care unit for a while. Perhaps your baby has birth defects. Perhaps, you lost your baby.
You had hopes of being happy, but you are not happy, and you feel guilty for not being happy, but you are supposed to be happy, right? You had a dream, a vision of what your life would be like after having a baby. You had expectations of what your childbirth experience would be like. Sometimes things happen that we don’t expect. Sometimes situations are beyond our control.
I came to realize a few years ago that I’m not Cinderella, and there is no “happily ever after.” Life is hard. You will never come to a point in your life where you have “arrived” so that you never have any problems. So we have to make the best of what we are given.
That is why we need to grieve. The past is over. We cannot change the past. What happened, however horrible it might be, happened, and there is nothing we can do about it. Our dream is dead. Our hopes are dashed. We are disappointed with the way things turned out. We are angry at our doctors, at the hospital, at our family, at ourselves, and we are angry at God. We feel ripped off. Where is the storybook ending we hoped for? Why is this happening to us? What have we ever done to deserve such a raw deal? We wish we could go back and do things differently. But unfortunately, we can’t.
So... What is Forgiveness?
Well, it is hard, it is a challenge, it is not something
you can do if you are not ready.
Now I want to examine what forgiveness IS, and what it is NOT.
Forgiveness is NOT approving of what the other person did.
What forgiveness is NOT:
Forgiveness is NOT excusing what the other person did.
Forgiveness is NOT justifying what the other person did.
Forgiveness is NOT pardoning what the other person did.
Forgiveness is NOT reconciliation. (Reconciliation requires
two people, forgiveness only requires one.)
Forgiveness is NOT denying what the other person did.
Forgiveness is NOT blindness to what happened.
Forgiveness is NOT forgetting.
Forgiveness is NOT refusing to take the wrong seriously.
Forgiveness is NOT pretending you are not hurt.
What forgiveness IS:
It is simply letting go of your negative emotions toward another person or persons.
- According to the Dictionary, to forgive is to cease to
feel resentment against someone on account of a wrong
I know what you are thinking... This is stupid! Why in the
world would I want to forgive the person or people who did
this to me? They completely ruined my life!
Am I right? Well, there are many reasons to forgive someone who
has devastated you and ruined your life. It is for you. It will
improve your physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. In
fact it can be the most important thing you do in your life.
According to an article in Newsweek, persistent unforgiveness,
even though it is in human nature, is
detrimental to you health. The mixture of bitterness, resentment,
anger, hostility, hate, and fear (of being hurt again)
causes increased blood pressure and hormonal changes - linked to
cardiovascular disease, immune suppression and possibly
impaired neurological function and memory. Forgiveness can reduce
this state of stress and therefore improving your
Forgiveness completely goes against our natural human tendency to
seek revenge and demand justice. To forgive we have to transcend
from our human mindset into a spiritual mindset, and CHOOSE to forgive. Sometimes this is a daily struggle. Holding on to negative emotions is only
hurting you. The person or people you are thinking of often have no idea
that they hurt you. Your feelings are not having any effect on them whatsoever. What good is it then to hang on to those feelings? You only continue to punish yourself.
When we talk about PTSD, we often talk about our sense of control
being stripped away from us. When we lose control in a situation
where harm comes to us, we are traumatized, and we become the victim.
What do you think of when you hear the word victim? Weak... Afraid...
Timid... Not able to fight back... Angry... How do those words make
you feel? Not good I imagine. When we are the victim we continue to
let that person or persons hurt us over and over again. As long as we
are the victim, we do not have the control.
In order to be able to move on, we have to relinquish the role of
the victim, and claim the role of the hero. A hero is strong, courageous,
powerful, able to fight, and in control. Become your own hero and rescue yourself from the bitterness, resentment, anger, hostility, hate, and fear.
When you forgive you take back the power that was taken away from you. The power to change your life. Someone else changed your life in the past, and they took away your power. It's time for you to reclaim your power and change your life again... for the better. Forgiveness can not change the past, but it can give you the power to change how you feel about the past and to change your future. You will never be able to move on with your life until you forgive those who hurt you.
If you have been dealing with your pain for a long time, it is
familiar to you. You are like a convict who has been in prison for 40
years and is up for parole. Freedom is daunting and scary. Prison,
although a negative experience, is familiar. It is all you know. Your pain is familiar to you and you are not sure if you are ready to give up the negative emotions linked to it, and forgive those who hurt you. I know how difficult it is, but believe me, it is vital to your physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health. Move in baby steps. You will know when you are ready.
How to Forgive: (Get a pen and paper, I will wait.)
- Write down who it is that you need to forgive.
- Acknowledge your pain. Do not deny it. You have a right to your pain. Describe what happened (be specific). How did you feel? How do you feel now thinking about it? (Write it down.)
- Compare the pros and cons of forgiving and no forgiving. What would you lose? What would you gain? (Write it down.)
- Make the decision to forgive and think about why you are doing it. Are you doing it to benefit your life, or because you think you have to, or you should?
- Let go of all of the negative feelings. Ask God for help. We often cannot do it on our own. Visualize yourself as a superhero rescuing your victim-self from a dark pit; or visualize yourself walking out of your prison, only you hold the key. Forgiveness is a process, make the decision daily to forgive. Finally, keep a journal of your feelings through this process.
You can do it! I believe in you!
- Why Forgive by Johann Christoph Arnold (PDF). A wonderful e-book about forgiveness.