Written by Sandy Stone, LPC
I recently had a client who was struggling with some deep, deep hurt. The therapy session turned to the idea of “forgive and forget.” Can one ever really forget and should we expect that to even happen? I honestly don’t know that we ever completely forget, but I think the pain behind the memory can be eased as we learn to forgive.
So, how do we know we have truly forgiven?
I’d like to offer Four F’s of Finished Forgiveness:
- Feelings Change – As we come to the end our journey in forgiveness, we should be able to talk about the incident in a less emotional way. “When Joe and I broke up, I learned to become more independent”, rather than, “When Joe and I broke up, I hurt so bad I still remember that pain like it was yesterday!” You might also find that not only your personal feelings of pain, hurt and anger lessen, but your ability to forgive might change your feelings toward the person who hurt you. You might discover that you feel more compassionate, empathetic and understanding toward him/her.
- Focus Centers – When we have reached full forgiveness, our desire for payback or retaliation fades away. We no longer feel the need to see them hurt or struggle because with forgiveness, the focus moves from what can I do to them to how can I move forward from here. No longer focusing on the power the offender has over you, you are now able to focus on the power within yourself to be victorious over the pain and suffering. It’s no longer about what he/she did to you, but it’s all about what you can do for yourself.
- Freedom Comes – Freedom always comes with forgiveness. Letting go of the hurt, allowing yourself to move forward, and releasing the pain deep within are all ways to experience the freedom of forgiveness. Emotional healing frees us to see the beauty of this world and feel the peace and joy that was once so deeply buried that only pain and sadness was left. Forgiveness is the shovel that allows us to unearth the positive and live an abundant life.
- Faith Conquers – As we forgive others who have hurt us, we are able to see them in a more compassionate way and our faith in the God who loves us (and them!) is increased, renewed and/or restored. We are better able to focus on our spiritual walk and trust God to care for the rest. We lose the need to defeat the offender and rest in the faith that God is in control.
If you are struggling to forgive, if you have a pain that you cannot let go of, if you just need someone to help you refocus your emotions, call Legacy Counseling Service in Broken Arrow at 918-505-4367. We have licensed therapists ready to listen and help you change your feelings and focus, help you find freedom in forgiveness and guide you to renew your faith and strengthen your spiritual walk.