The following is a guest article written by Joya Gunn, a dynamic 16 year old young woman who I just knew was a writer at heart. She recently travelled to Haiti on a mission trip and has dazzled me with her wisdom. Photo and article provided by Joya Gunn. (This photo is of Hudson Bay Mountain, the mountain that Joya grew up under.) What an inspiring scene! Thank you for writing Joya. We will look forward to your next one….
Freedom in Forgiveness by Joya Gunn
This week I found myself sitting at my desk attempting to write a paper, but I couldn’t find the words. There I sat, for an hour and fifteen minutes only managing to type three sentences and the date on my page. My head was reeling with hurt and anger, I couldn’t focus for more than five seconds. My emotion had been taking all of my concentration away from what I needed to do.
I had been angry with a friend all week for being harsh and cruel towards someone I loved, and I was angry with myself for letting it take over my thoughts and distract me. I couldn’t stop thinking about the nasty things she had said about those who I love the most. It had consumed my mind for days on end, I was becoming increasingly bitter and resentful about what had happened.
This was when I realised that I couldn’t keep going on like this, it was poisoning my mind and heart to be focusing on someone else’s wrong. I needed to let it go. So I decided to simply stop thinking about it. I tried my best to keep my thoughts on other things but when I saw her that familiar red hot anger bubbled up inside me. It wasn’t that simple, I couldn’t just stop thinking about the things she said, and the way she had hurt me.
I knew what the answer was the whole time, but I was too prideful and stubborn to accept it. The more the bitterness ate away at me, the more I knew I had to forgive her. I had convinced myself that holding onto this grudge would somehow make me stronger, but it only made me bitter and angry. By fully forgiving my friend, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders that had been wearing down on me for more than I knew. Often by forgiving someone, we think that we are setting them free from our condemnation, but we realize that we are in fact, setting ourselves free.
We often have a hard time forgiving people because we think that they don’t deserve forgiveness, but forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness is not to make the other person feel excused from the wrong they have done, but to bring you the peace you need to move on with your life.
The best way to forgive, is to never take the offense personally. By doing this you have to understand that what someone does to another, is a way to reflect how they feel inside their own heart. When you feel happy, and you love yourself, you don’t often hurt others. It is always the one who has a broken heart, who breaks someone else’s heart. If you understand that when you are hurt by someone, it is only because they are hurting underneath the surface, it is much easier to forgive.
So allow yourself the gift of forgiveness, do not let any situation stop you from moving forward. Set yourself free from the pain and sadness of the past, using that as strength and motivation to keep growing stronger, because forgiveness is strength. You do not want to be the victim, you do not want them to win, by forgiving them you rise above all that. After all it is not a game, it’s life, and it is the only one you get. So be the better you, forgive those who may not deserve it, love those who can’t love themselves, and let yourself be free.
‘Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free, and realizing you were the prisoner.’ ~ Max Lucado