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  • Jennifer Cruse

IMPORTANT LESSONS ON FORGIVENESS

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

-Buddah


I can't think of a better quote that describes forgiveness. The only person you punish if you hold onto anger is yourself.

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But forgiveness is not as easy as it sounds. Who hasn't been hurt by the actions or words of another? Perhaps a partner has put you down, a coworker has criticized you in front of a group of people or a parent has made you feel less then. These wounds (and their words) can leave lasting feelings of resentment, bitterness and anger.


But if you hold on to that pain it can make you physically sick. One study from Concordia University found that anger was even more dangerous than sadness. People who were angry had more low-grade inflammation and were more likely to suffer from a chronic illness than people who described themselves as sad. Other studies show that anger clouds your ability to see things from someone else’s perspective.


By embracing forgiveness, you can embrace peace and hope. Consider how much better you will feel if you're not holding on anger or carrying it around like an over-packed suitcase at the airport.

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Do you remember the first time you ever felt anger? Maybe you're still carrying around some anger right now. My first time dealing with anger I can remember like yesterday. It was when I found out my parents were getting a divorce. I felt confusion, pain, sadness and anger by the fact that they were separating.


I was six years old at the time.


What I learned from the divorce and my anger towards it was that time heals all wounds. As I continue to grow older, I've learned that my parents did the best that they could.


Because of my experiences not only with the divorce, but in life, I wanted to share what I've learned about forgiveness with all of you.


1. Forgive, don’t forget, but don’t let the memory of what happened control you.


Like William Young once said, "Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person's throat."

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Yes, little extreme visual I will admit, but forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless we speak the truth about what the other person has done to us, a relationship of trust is not possible. Forgiveness isn't easy, but living a life full of resentment, anger and sadness isn't a good one either.


2. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to welcome the other person who hurt you with open arms or condone their actions.


Forgiving doesn’t always mean welcoming that person back into your life like nothing happened.

There are people who can’t be in our lives without hurting us. These kinds of people need to be loved from a distance. Life is too short to make it harder and more painful by allowing people who constantly hurt us back into our circle of peacefulness. Ultimately, pain can give us huge lessons and make us better people.


3. Forgive to set yourself free.


What does it mean to set yourself free by forgiving?


For me it means letting go and accepting that I feel hurt. It means processing those emotions in a healthy way and not hurting the person who hurt me. This has been one of the most important lessons in my life. If you want to live a happy life, you have to let go of the pain, but not the lessons that it taught you. When you do this, it will feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

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Lastly, we can’t erase the past, but we can choose to let go of the pain in order to live a happier, more fulfilling life. The road isn’t easy; in fact, there will be days when it's hard to put one foot in front of the other. But keep moving forward.


In the end, forgiveness is not about the other person; it is about us.

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