Sometimes it’s too hard to forgive. When an abusive parent won’t admit to their mistakes and keeps blaming their children for what went wrong in their relationship; when a spouse is cheating and denies any responsibility; when a friend gets into trouble over and over and won’t hear the concern we have for them; when a relationship is just too one-sided and toxic; when only one person makes an effort and the other is passive and in denial; it can be impossible to just forgive.
As Noah Levine writes in his book The Heart of the Revolution: “The freedom of forgiveness often includes a firm boundary and loving distance from those who harmed us.”
But when forgiveness isn’t easy to achieve, it doesn’t mean that we have to be stuck with our grudge and disappointment. That is the time when we have to let go.
We can’t be consumed by our anger and hurt for the rest of our lives. Whatever it is someone has done to us, at one point we have to move on. Yes, we absolutely need to grant ourselves a period of time when we can just be mad, resentful, hurt and begrudged. Feelings need time to unfold, be recognized and just plain felt. We can’t suppress them. They need to be validated and respected.
But at one point, when the rage and pain takes too much out of us, when we get that faint feeling of “do I really need this?” Then the time has come to start and let go. I read this quote recently: “Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past.” Same goes for letting go. We need to let go, and acknowledge how absurd it is to hold on the idea that what was done can be changed if we just want it badly enough.
We have the power to just accept that this is what happened to us. To turn away from the past and look towards the future. To work towards the awareness that what was done to us, doesn’t have to happen again. We have the might to put in safeguards against it.
It is all about changing perspective. If we can take responsibility and see that we are in charge of what we make of our lives, that we can alter the outlook we have on what makes us a person – then we are fully realized.
It’s up to us to make it happen.