Five Benefits of Forgiveness

11.27.2014

Picture this...

The sun is pouring in from your window, beaming on your face telling you that it's a new day.

Your eyes fight to open against the light. They finally adjust and you're now wide awake. You turn your head over to the right and you are now staring at a key resting on your pillow.

You're not imagining this. It is not a dream. You don't know where it came from, how it got there but you now have this key.


Is someone playing a mean joke? You've been behind bars going on twenty years and out of nowhere you now you have this key?

You immediately sit up and look to your cell door. You contemplate whether or not you should try.

"What if it works? What if it doesn't? Wouldn't hurt to try."

So you get up. You get up to try.

Reaching around the bars, fumbling for the lock to insert the key. You insert it and it fits.

The key fits?

The key fits!

You step back in astonishment settling into the fact.

You take a deep breath, place your hand back on the key and turn. With ease, the door unlocks. You push the door, it creaks in agony for it hasn't been opened since you first made this place your home, but this creak is like sweet music to your ears.

And just like that, you walk out. 

A few steps out, you look back to the prison door. You walk back, lock the door behind you and take the key.

At this point, you notice one sole word is inscribed on the key: FORGIVENESS.

***
Later on today, as we sit down to enjoy our Thanksgiving meals, one thing that I'll be thanking God for is forgiveness.

If you would have asked me at any point earlier this year, "What is it you need to work on?" My answer would have been a mile long list.  It would have a list of things that I needed to change or improve upon to get me unstuck and help me to live at my greatest.

Fast forward to early autumn, that long list no longer exists and has been replaced by a list of one. I realized that before anything else, I needed to work on forgiveness. My greatest offense was the lack of  forgiveness to things tied to my past and the people associated with them. It quickly became evident to me that I had been paralyzed because I chose not to forgive and was inadvertently freezing my life in my childhood. 

Holding on to the past was negatively affecting my present. It had imprisoned me. It was some weighty truth that pushed me to dedicate time and energy to prayer, journaling and actively working on this forgiveness journey.

In October, I listed in my journal people that I needed to forgive. And one of those people was my mother. Our relationship has always been strained. And now through forgiveness, I've laid to rest everything that I've held against her. I find myself looking forward to our conversations and I'm in a place where I want to get to know her as a person. It's been freeing to say the least and our relationship is better for it.

Yes, it's been less than two months and I'm in awe of what I've experienced in such a short amount of time. Since I have begun this journey, it's been such a blessing that I want to share some benefits that I've come across. And maybe it'll prompt you and encourage you to embark on a forgiveness journey of your own.  

1. Forgiveness Unlocks Your Prison Cell

The prison is a reference for your past.

You, your heart is what's been locked away.

And forgiveness is the key to unlock you from your past, your prison.

When you don't forgive, you're bound by the actions and words of people and memories of past experiences. The most jarring part of it all was the fact that I didn't even know I was behind bars. I was oblivious to the cell that I created for myself. I had it all dressed up, made it all cozy and made it my home. It's been home for so long that I forgot that I was confined. 

Your prison cell may be all dressed up, but it's still a prison cell that limits your life.

2. Forgiveness Opens You to Love

In early November, as I was driving to work, there was a moment that my forgiveness clicked, the key turned. In the quietness of my car, things changed instantly. The moment I forgave my mother, any hardness in my heart towards her was removed and love and compassion came rushing in to fill that space.

That day at work, I listened to others with a compassionate ear and had a tenderness towards others that I've never had before all because of forgiveness.

Becoming open to love and compassion only happened when I forgave, which leads me to believe that without forgiveness, you can't truly love or be compassionate in its fullness.

Unforgiveness cannot reside with love and compassion. They are contradictory.

I further attest to how forgiveness has opened me, when I think back to a conversation with a friend about another person on my list. In the conversation, I was able to express compassion for this person. I blew my myself away. My right leg started bouncing wildly.  My body could not compute what was falling from my lips.

I was only able to come to this place of compassion because of the taste of forgiveness that I am now experiencing. 

3. Forgiveness Heals

I held on to a lot of experiences for so long due to unforgiveness. Going back in my memory before would bring me to tears-- that's how stuck I was in pain. I was an adult woman crying over actions or perceived actions that happened when I was eight.

When I finally came to a place of forgiveness with my mother, all of the past didn't matter anymore. With forgiveness, I now see things a bit more clearly and I am not judgmental or holding grudges as to how things should have been or could have been.

I came to realize that my mother did the best that she could with the resources that she had and her ability. I'm thankful for what she's done for me and who she has been to be as my mother now.

4. Forgiveness Gets Addicting

After the taste of forgiveness I have experienced with my mother, all the other people and related experiences in my life, I'm wanting to all the more to work through and forgive them too.

The lightness of heart that I've received, I want more of it. The peace that I have, I want more of it. The compassion, the love, the excitement that I have about my life, I want more of it. And it's on the other side of forgiveness.

I'm addicted and I'm willing to work to get my fix of forgiveness. It's a worthwhile high that I don't want to come down from. In fact, as I continue to journey through forgiveness, I'm praying to go higher and higher.

5. Forgiveness Gives You Hope

When you're finally out of a prison that you've been in for so long, the freedom tastes sweet. You look forward to tomorrow with excitement. The lens through which you see your life is rosier and for me personally, forgiveness has given me some courage to live life more. I'm not shackled down by bitterness and a slew of other emotions. I am free to move as I please, dance, scream, shout for joy.

I have a new excitement about life that literally when I stop to think about it makes me smile.

Time doesn't heal all wounds, forgiveness does. So, with that truth, I'm forging forward, continuing to navigate through this journey however long it takes. The slice of forgiveness that I've been fortunate to experience is showing me that it's worth it.

I challenge you to forgive. Is there anything that you are holding on to? Stuck on?

 Hope you have a beautiful and happy Thanksgiving. Eat well for me.

Much Love,
B. Pierre

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