I cannot recall many situations, when I was young, where forgiving someone was so difficult for me that I never did. Whether my mother forgot to pick me up from soccer practice on time, my best friend revealed a secret I told her not to, or my brother punched me in the arm and left a bruise, I forgave. Growing up in a Christian family, I learned that when someone does you wrong you must forgive them. This was easy enough until I started to grow older and face more serious and hurtful situations—situations that made it incredibly hard to even consider forgiveness.
Brian was my definition of the perfect boy. He was six feet tall and had curly, dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He was athletic and had a great sense of humor. We both loved Manny’s Mexican food and watching football on T.V. together—he always cheered for the Cowboys, and I never betrayed the Broncos. Camping and ATVing in the dunes of Pismo Beach were two of our favorite things to do together. He was my best friend and we meant everything to each other. We were young and in love.
Two years and seven months into our relationship, he cheated on me. He broke our trust and he broke my heart. It ended everything. I was devastated. I no longer believed in love or in relationships, nor did I believe in myself.
For months I was filled with sadness and hopelessness, fear and extreme loneliness. I cried in class, with friends, in the shower, in bed, in my dreams. Everyday.
Months later, the sadness passed and I became filled with anger and hatred. I wanted him to feel the same pain he inflicted on me, so I yelled and said hurtful things to him. This was satisfying for a while, but soon the anger and hatred brought feelings of sadness and loneliness yet again. We were no longer friends, and we no longer spoke to each other. After the incident, not one word, expression, or glance was exchanged between us.
Finally, nine months later, I was ready to move on. I realized that I needed to forgive him. Although I was still emotionally hurt, I began to do just that. I repeated the phrase “I forgive you” aloud to myself every day, and I meant it. Slowly, my heart began to heal and I started to trust again. I grew into an independent and confident young woman. These were qualities that I forgot I possessed, but that became part of me once again.
To this day, three years later, Brian and I have hardly ever spoken. I have never personally told him to his face that I forgave him for what he did, but it is not always necessary to express feelings out loud to another person in order to overcome hardships.
After forgiving a person who caused me to lose trust in relationships and lose respect for myself, I was able to meet someone else. It was not within the next month or even the next year, but once I truly allowed myself to forgive, I was able to move on, grow, and love myself again. In turn, this allowed me to love and trust someone else.
I cannot and will not minimize the amount of pain that one person can inflict on another, but I do believe that once the pain subsides, forgiveness leads to humility, which begins the process of moving on. I believe in the power of forgiveness.
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