Thursday 10 September 2009

Forgiveness is a decision

I might have got you with that one, but stay with me for a while and see what you think...

There is a common fallacy that one clear day, the emotion of forgiveness arrives. Out of nowhere, we forgive those who have hurt us. It just happens. Now, while that may be true for some, for others its not so easy. It requires our willingness, our choice: it is not a passive experience. It is active. It is something that we can claim for ourselves.

Our emotions are the equivalent of a group of play-school toddlers on a sugar high. They run all around the place, they are uncontrollable and they lead us. This is equally true of our emotions.

If, rather than being controlled by our emotions, we took the time to make a decision about how to respond to events our lives might be shaped rather differently.

I remember when I read that line, 'Forgiveness is a decision'. It was a overcast August day and I was sitting on a park bench in Basel, Switzerland. My immediate reaction was, "No: there's no way that's true. There's no way I can do that."

But the idea gnawed away, so I decided to see if it is true. I chose the one person I felt I could not forgive and I decided to forgive them.

I'd like to say that was easy and immediate. It wasn't. And to be honest, it took some considerable time to percolate through my system. But the reality is that because I chose to forgive, I put a stake in the ground and, over time, that forgiveness gained momentum; it deepened until it finally became complete.

I went from pain to forgiveness to a deep and abiding love that, to this day, still surprises me.

So I urge you: if there is anyone in your life who has hurt you or betrayed you, rather than hold the pain deep inside, free yourself. Allow yourself to flow again, rather than remaining trapped in that dark emotional vortex of pain.

Decide to forgive. It will start you on a whole new journey that is deeply healing.

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