On Forgiveness

PHOTO: @lmtrochezz

PHOTO: @lmtrochezz

Forgiveness is a really tender, personal, and vulnerable thing. As an Enneagram 8, vulnerability doesn’t come easy for me, especially if you’re not in my inner circle (and sometimes not even then!). But I want to invite you in on a journey I’ve been on the past couple of years.

I’ll spare you the details because they don’t matter to you, but I’ve been on a path to forgive someone who’s deeply hurt me. It’s been a process for a few significant reasons.

One, my character was questioned and I felt maligned. I value my character more than anything, so when things were said and decisions were made about my character it was incredibly painful. What was done was arguably illegal, but I didn’t want to go that route.

Second, there was a significant financial loss as a result of the choices this person made.

Finally, the path to forgiveness wasn’t just to forgive this person, but also four people who have directly benefitted by what this person did. I got thrown under the bus and none of those four people spoke against the lies or corrected the narrative against my character. They benefitted with more opportunity and more money, and they continue to benefit today.

About a year ago I was speaking at an event and I ran into the person who hurt me. It was awkward. I felt incredibly triggered. I felt emotionally unsafe. There was a visceral reaction I had in my body when I saw this person. Even though I had done SO.MUCH.WORK to forgive them for what they did, seeing them brought back all kinds of memories and pain.

My friend Beth Grabill said this to me about healing. “Healing from an emotional wound is like healing from a physical wound. Say you jack up your shoulder and require meds, physical therapy, time, and extra care so your shoulder heals from the injury. You’ve done the work, but then a rainy day or a wrong movement or over-exercise will trigger the past injury. It’s nothing you’ve done wrong, but the trigger happens. It doesn’t mean you haven’t done the work. It’s just a reminder of what happened.”

Instant tears.

I’ve done the work. I am still doing the work.

I forgive because I want freedom. I will not allow someone else’s actions to define my character, my life, or my future. I have forgiven because I won’t be hooked into the past. Because I’ve been forgiven for so much, I’m able to forgive much. What happened doesn’t define me; it teaches me.

I have cried countless tears as a result of this wound. But Monday during my monthly day of silence and solitude I read this:

Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.
— Psalm 126:5-6 (NLT)

This is good news. What was intended to hurt me, God is turning for good. A harvest is coming because of the sad, healing tears I have planted. I want to be a woman who’s growing good fruit in this season and every other.

I’m more convinced than ever that forgiveness is one of our greatest teachers. If we want to live + lead with wholeness, forgiveness is required.

Warriors and Allies, may you experience the freedom and healing that comes with forgiveness. Do the work however long it takes. You are worth it.