Forgiveness as we know may not be very easy for every one to give especially if the offence is great. Nonetheless, it is important that w...
Forgiveness as we know may not be very easy for every one to give especially if the offence is great. Nonetheless, it is important that we all learn to forgive. The ability and will to forgive are virtues that we should possess. By all means, everyone at one time or the other has offended someone or has erred in one way or the other and we got forgiveness from those we offended, therefore, we ought to give to others what we got from some others though it may not be easy.
A lot find it difficult to forgive because they measure or weigh offences by certain standards. They compare the offence of their offender to some other offences they considered lesser in weight than the one done to them, this further makes it difficult for them to give forgiveness. Every offence before God is the same; meaning if you're guilty of one you are guilty of all. We should not group offences by what we perceive as their weight.
That being said, forgiveness is not an easy task. How would someone who faces his father's killer forgive him knowing his life could have gone easier if his dad was alive and you killed him? How would a lady face the man who forcefully took her virginity, raped her at a tender age, got her pregnant and made her care for a child when she should have enjoyed her own childhood? How can a man forgive his wife that his driver slept with and he caught them in the act as he came back from work with flowers to give his wife in celebration? There are a lot more instances to give but how can these set of people forgive?!!!
I've been trying to find answers to this question for a very long time but all I get is sermon upon sermon on forgiveness but many just preach but they really don't teach you how to heal which is the most difficult step to forgiveness. We shall briefly discuss some few steps from my experience towards forgiveness. From my own understanding and what I have gone through, these are the stages of forgiveness I went through, I hope this helps someone out there struggling to forgive.
Please know this that in forgiveness you are also someone you have to forgive, you! Forgiving yourself will make it easy for you to forgive others.
Stages to forgiveness
- Revelation or Discovery: No journey starts at the end. We begin this process of course at the point of discovering the offence(s) and the offender(s). If no offence is known then there's no need for forgiveness. This stage is also in to parts; (i) Identifying the offence(s) and the offender(s) (ii) Finding the cause(s) of the offence(s). Finding out something happened and identifying the offender is so difficult especially if it is someone you least expected could do such a thing to you. The other thing is also looking for answers as to why it happened. Could it be that I was careless, was there something I did wrong, wasn't I supposed to be there, did I fail in my duties, Was it that I couldn't meet her/his needs? These are questions that will naturally come to mind and they are really not harmless; getting answers to them from within you or the offender will either help you or not in your journey towards forgiveness.
- The Grief period: After knowledge of offence comes the period of pain. What ever you learnt from the revelation stage will be painful no matter how. This is the stage where a lot wallow in pain caused by betrayal, love had for the offender, memory of the offence, shame caused by the offence, pain caused by empathy from others and so on. This period has no time frame as we all respond to pain differently. The sanguine and, or phlegmatic may find this stage easier than the choleric and, or the melancholic. Cry as much as you can, get angry but don't be destructive. Talk less at this stage and try to remain calm.
- Acceptance: This is a very crucial stage. Coming to terms with the event is very vital towards forgiveness. Whether you accept it or not the offence has happened, someone raped you, someone slept with your spouse, someone robbed you of your most precious jewel, someone maltreated you, someone shot your dad and he came out to confess after you have suffered by his action, someone did something painful to you; learn to accept it. Your mind is the home of your joy or sadness. Tell yourself the deed has been done I have to move on with my life. This is where you choose to move on and live happy or recede to the pain caused by the offence and be miserable. Accept and go.
- Take charge: Anyone that offended you has placed his or herself at your mercy and that is the fact of the matter. They may not know it while the act was on and they were enjoying the euphoria of the moment but as soon as you get to the stage one which is revelation, they are left at your mercy. In some countries you can shoot at someone for trespassing and you wont be guilty of murder so if you chose to shoot or not that person is left at your mercy. In this case we don't encourage shooting someone as that is in no way related to forgiveness, nonetheless, they are still at your mercy. You now become someone they have to look for people to beg you. They now crawl on the knees to say sorry. Accepting their apologies is now your choice meaning you now have the key to their peace of mind. Take charge of the situation because you just got promoted from the victim to the victor. Discovering the offence and the offender alone has put you in that position.
- Forgive: This is where we've been coming to. The forgiving stage is not the final stage however but it is the point from where the next stage begins. Forgiveness is simply letting go. Leave the hook that's holding the offence and let it slide into the sea of the past. Give the offence room to slip away. See the offender as how you may have been to someone else or could be. Give forgiveness as something you wish to get in case you err. See it as a sowing stage. Forgive totally. Settle within yourself that that is all about it, you can no longer carry the weight of the offence because that is what you do when you refuse to forgive. When you forgive, you transfer the weight form off you and the offender into the past.
- Heal: Forgiveness does not necessarily heal you but that is where healing starts from. This is the stage where you count your losses and start to make fresh moves to better your life. You talk to people about new opportunities, you get to meet new people, you do things that make you happy or forget past events. It's easier to forget terrible events if a better one happens, This is where you learn from what happened before, make corrections and carefully move on so that you wont have a repeat of the past event.
- Decision: This is the final stage in forgiveness. This is where you decide whether to let the offender in or out, surprised? The truth remains that because you forgave someone doesn't mean you let the person back in. Study the offender for signs of a possible relapse and decide if you can't still bear such pain again in the future or you would rather prefer to live without the person. It is important to decide at this stage. In the case of married couples and adultery it is difficult because I don't advocate for divorce; it is wrong and it is the reason why our society is giving birth to moral decadence, the children suffer most from divorce and single parenting even when their mum or dad remarries after divorce, the processes is always difficult for the kids. That being said, you can forgive your spouse and begin to work together to prevent such happenings again. Ask your spouse for what you didn't do right or ways you could have helped in preventing such.
In conclusion, forgiveness would be easier too if you can pray. Prayer prevents, strengthens and heals. A prayerful and a watchful person may not have to go through this process as his choices in relationships would be guided.
Learn to forgive.