You may not initially see the correlation between forgiveness and a changed life, but I can guarantee you that forgiveness can change your life.
Forgiveness is powerful, it’s freeing, it can mend broken relationships and can certainly change your life.
You know as well as I do, that we’re all broken and have failed in life. We’ve all got issues and some of those issues relate to a hardened heart and the inability to forgive.
Failure is Guaranteed
If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly failing at life. Failing in your marriage, your relationships with friends, family, your children, failing in your work, your exercise regime, and failing at learning all the important life lessons.
But I know you want to kick failing’s butt! Right!? No-one likes failing at anything. It’s embarrassing and by its very nature, sets you back every time.
As Thomas A. Edison put it, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
I fail every day. Multiple times a day. I guess I’m used to it now. I’m sure this resonates with you if you’re honest with yourself that is.
Get Honest With Yourself
I’ve not been honest with myself over many years in many areas of my life, but that’s changing…slowly. Without honesty, it makes it hard to identify what some of our failings are, and therefore it makes it extremely difficult to know what to focus on.
To be honest with yourself means looking at yourself, from a distance, almost from an outsider’s point of view.
I’ve found the easiest way to do this is through others.
At times ask my wife, my children, my siblings and on occasion, my friends what they see as some of my failings as being, and I must say, this sometimes really surprises me. It’s certainly confronting, but extremely necessary if I’m going to improve.
Failing at life is a prerequisite. It makes sense. We’re given no instruction manual for how to succeed in relationships, no lessons on how to raise kids, and no induction on how to get through life’s ever-present challenges.
For the most part, we just really have to wing it and ‘see what happens’. This doesn’t always work though does it? Sometimes, we’re just not capable of navigating through what we need to do.
This sadly can end in divorce, broken relationships, abuse, jail time, or worse.
One way of learning how to deal with life is from others.
This is why authors and speakers like Tony Robbins, John Maxwell or Rick Warren are extremely popular, and obviously quite beneficial. They share, for the most part, strategies and methods of how to deal with life’s issues. The strategies they provide give us the ability to be able to deal with failure, disappointment, unhappiness, and overwhelm.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve failed in every area of my life and in some sense and I’m still paying for those failures.
I strongly believe that the lessons I’ve learned through my failures can certainly help save your marriage, your relationship with your father, your career, your lifelong friendships, or even your reputation.
Let’s not reinvent the wheel. If I can learn from others’ mistakes, I’d take it every day of the week. So should you.
I’m hoping that from the lessons I’ve had to learn throughout my life around forgiveness, I can help you overcome some of the issues you’re currently facing or will eventually face around this.
Forgiveness can change your life, as can the lack of forgiveness, so be open to change as you read on.
The Most Devastating Moment Of My Life
When I was young, I had a wonderful relationship with my Dad, or so my Mum tells me. I was his first child and by all accounts, he adored me.
As I grew, I became more independent and headstrong. As such, I tended to argue with my Dad quite frequently. I didn’t show a lot of respect and certainly didn’t really value his influence in my life. Over time, I felt like our relationship soured.
In recent years, just before I had kids, I had ‘another’ argument with him and because of my pig-headedness and the strong position that I held of ‘being right’, I thought he needed to apologize. The rift went on, and on, and on.
Fast forward 3 kids later. I was adamant that he had the issues and if he did really want to see his grandkids, he would need to approach me. I was stupid. But really, that doesn’t accurately represent me at all. I wasn’t only stupid, but inconsiderate, selfish, uncaring, and ultimately unforgiving. I couldn’t forgive him for what was in all honesty, a lack of being able to bridge the gap. In some sense, he was incapable of knowing how to connect. I didn’t really acknowledge this at the time, but I definitely knew that this was something that my Dad struggled with his whole life.
It was Wednesday and I was enjoying time with my kids at the pool. I was, in my mind, an awesome Dad. I was a lot of things to my kids that my Dad wasn’t to me. I was a good person. I had it all together. I even certainly considered myself a forgiving person, like when my wife did something that needed forgiving, I was there, offering up forgiveness with a loving smile.
Then the call came through from my sister. “I’m at Dad’s, with the police. Dad’s dead. You need to come now”.
What had I done? Could I be responsible for this? Is this all on me? There were dozens of thoughts rushing around in my head in an instant. What I couldn’t actually bring myself to admit, is that my kids would never ever get to know their granddad. No sitting on his knee reading books, no gardening with him in the backyard, inviting him to school concerts, no kisses and hugs, no reminiscing about when I was a boy and all the mischief I got up to.
For me, there’d be no chat’s around the fire when we went camping, no shouting at the T.V when watching the North Melbourne Kangaroos vs. the Carlton Blues, no helping him through retirement or re-designing his garden, no intimate times, no fun banter, no arguments and no making up with a hug.
I was devastated. More than anyone knew. I felt a hurt that I had never experienced before and no matter what I did, it wouldn’t go away.
This was all on me. ME alone! It was overwhelming. More than I could bear. I didn’t know what to do or how to ‘fix’ this but I knew I had to ask myself some hard questions.
This is the exact point where my life had to change.
Initially, I knew, I had an unforgiving attitude. If I could forgive my wife and my mates, why couldn’t I forgive my Dad?
I did take a bit of time to come to understand that I couldn’t choose who I forgave, this wasn’t how it worked.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong” Mahatma Gandhi
The Consequences Of Not Forgiving Others
I knew the ramifications of what my unforgiveness had done, but again, it took time for me to totally comprehend the full and powerful ripple effects.
I do now.
Because of my inaction, my children’s lives will be forever different from how they could have been, as are mine and my siblings.
How could I have been so unforgiving? How did I have let unforgiveness creep into my life without knowing?
The consequences of my unforgiveness are profound. I’ll forever be paying for my selfish and uncaring attitude, moreover, my children are the ones who have truly missed out on the wonders of having a beautiful relationship with their grandfather, albeit for a short time.
These are issues I’ve been dealing with and are still dealing with.
If you’ve not yet forgiven and need to, put into place some actions that will help you to get a place of full forgiveness.
These might include;
Becoming more empathetic
Reflecting on times that others haven’t been forgiving of you
Letting go of grudges
One essential mindset change is trying to move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation has had on your life
Getting to a place of forgiveness is a process, so it may take some time, so don’t put any unnecessary pressure on yourself.
The most important action you need to adopt is to choosing to forgive.
Forgiveness can change your life, in fact, it can drastically free you from burdens that have been holding you back from becoming the person you were meant to be, but only if you choose to forgive.
The Importance of Forgiving Yourself
So far, I’ve been predominantly talking about the forgiveness of others, in this case, my Dad, however the other aspect of forgiveness that is potentially more important to allow you to live a full and fulfilled life, is forgiveness of yourself.
Having gone through the process of understanding why forgiveness of others is crucial, I’m yet to really start delving into what unforgiveness looks like for myself.
The impact of not forgiving yourself is often overlooked.
In my own life, I’ve finally been able to forgive my Dad. Through his passing, I’ve learned a crucial lesson in forgiveness and how it needs to be a process that is now an intrinsic part of my life.
However, I know that not able to not fully forgive myself, will restrict me from being all that I was meant to be.
For me, this is much harder than forgiving others. I’m working on it and seem to be making some progress, which is positive.
So, I know how hard it is to forgive yourself, but trust me, you won’t be able to live a fulfilled (and happy) life if you don’t reach the point where you can finally say, I forgive me.
Forgiveness Can Change Your Life
The funny thing about forgiveness is that it’s all about you. It goes against the grain, doesn’t it? Forgiveness is about the ‘other’ person, right? No, no It’s not.
Forgiveness is about our attitude, not other’s actions.
When you forgive, you release yourself from the bonds that hold you.
In a great article about forgiveness, Mark Manson says “Forgiveness is choosing to not let negative events of the past define how you feel about someone or something in the present.”
Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or condoning what occurred, or even reconciling. It is a decision to release feelings that you harbor against the person that has harmed you.
Forgiveness can heal us and allow us to move on in life with meaning and purpose. Forgiveness matters, and we will be its primary beneficiary.
Forgiveness allows for healing and release. It’s truly beautiful.
Jesus gives us the perfect example of forgiveness in the Bible. While hanging on the cross in agony, Jesus called out, exclaiming “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).
Jesus also calls us to model our forgiveness on God’s forgiveness of us, saying forgive not by seven times, but seventy-seven.
If you haven’t forgiven anyone in your life, whether it’s one of your parents, a sibling, a close friend, a partner, or even an organization that’s had a detrimental effect on your life, you need to.
Don’t put it off until it’s too late. Regret can’t change things. Regret hurts like a bitch! You don’t want to live with regret, trust me.
Remember, forgiveness can change your life, but only if you act on it.
Work out what you need to do and do it. Make the call, take a visit, give a hug, whatever it is, do it. Do not wait.
In another article by Robin Enright, he says ‘Forgiveness is about goodness, about extending mercy to those who’ve harmed us, even if they don’t “deserve” it’.
If you need to, stop reading and go do what it is you need to. Maybe it’s just something you need to do for you, in your own mind. Learn from me. Know how much heartache can come from unforgiveness. If you already know what the feels like, make sure if Never happens again.
Be the bigger person, show love, and consider the other person.
If you need to forgive yourself, do it. Remember, you need to choose to forgive.
Forgiveness can change your life, but only if you act on it.
ACTION: Make a list of who you need to forgive and what steps you can take to reach forgiveness, remembering, that list may include yourself.
Comment below in the Comments Section, or jump over to the Facebook page and let me know what you thought of this post and if you’re brave enough, what steps you’ll implement to show forgiveness to that person who needs it.
And remember, you’re loved and you’re awesome!