When people think about forgiveness, they often think of it positively. Or perhaps they think that if you forgive, you have a big heart and you're following God's path because you're sparing another individual.
My entire life, I've been good at forgiving. You say you're sorry and tell me you were wrong, and maybe a short time passes and I feel bad. I'll feel bad because I knew it meant something to you to apologize even if the circumstances were in disarray and I'll forgive you even if you didn't actually deserve it.
When I say that I'm good at forgiving, I think most of the version of myself in high school and my naivety to what forgiveness really meant. I look back and see such a vulnerable girl just trying to find her way in life. I remember a girl who so badly wanted to feel acceptance, to feel belonging, to feel loved. And because of that, I let people walk all over me. I let people make up excuses for their shortcomings. I let people tell me over and over again "sorry," but never actually mean it. I let myself trust and believe wholeheartedly that people had kind souls that I let it get the best of me. My want to forgive people made sure that I was always left shorthanded.
I always thought that being forgiving and giving people the benefit of the doubt would reward you. That doing this made you a better person. I thought that forgiveness would force the people hurting you to see the pain you're going through and they'd finally change their ways and cherish you. But I was mistaken.
I forgave so often that it became my biggest pitfall. I remember days where I'd just sit and ask myself what it was that I saw in other people that made me believe they deserved another chance.
I've contemplated the answer to these scenarios. Why do I care? Why do I let people in? But although forgiving is somewhat painful, it's also very liberating. Sure, maybe the person doesn't deserve forgiveness at all, but for your sake, forgiving them and moving on helps you grow and learn to take care of yourself before anyone else.
Forgiving someone, in more serious circumstances, that is, doesn't mean redeveloping a relationship, it means you've had closure and are finally able to move past what was holding you down. It doesn't mean forgetting. It doesn't mean that the pain doesn't still sometimes come back to haunt you. It just means that you decided to close a chapter in your life that once drained the life out of you. It means not letting those circumstances get the best of you. It means mentally deciding that you deserve better, not them.
So maybe it feels like you're forgiving them for their sake, but really, it's for your sake. And trust me when I tell you that once you've forgiven and decided to let that circumstance become a situation of the past, a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
Although forgiving in high school felt like it was because someone deserved it, I've learned that it's never about them. Forgiveness is about you and of deciding to take control of your life by pushing past the negativity.
So, although forgiveness can be extremely painful, somewhat impossible, and completely undesirable, it only helps you grow individually. Start forgiving and start seeing yourself bloom.