As we move into 2012, we need to ask ourselves: Are you haunted by something that happened in your past? Whether someone wronged you or you made a decision you regret, many say that forgiveness is what you do for yourself, not for other people.
When you forgive, it doesn't mean that you approve of what's happened. Rather, it means that you're giving yourself permission to move on with your life.
Forgiveness is a choice. Don't wait for it to just wash over you all of a sudden. You have to choose it.
Don't give your power away. The pain of what happened is inevitable, but continuing to suffer is optional. The only person you can control is you. By constantly reliving the pain of what happened, you are giving your power away to the person who wronged you.
Don't cling to negative feelings. Anger is nothing more than an outward sign of hurt, fear, guilt, grief or frustration. While the pain may never completely disappear, forgiveness can help you release the anger and bring those in your life closer to you. That does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person who hurt you nor does it mean letting them off the hook. What it does mean is taking them off your hook and placing them on God's. Also, unforgiveness causes anger and often depression is anger turned inward. Letting go of anger, will release many from the bondage of depression.
There is no right timeline for recovery. For some people, making peace happens suddenly and spontaneously. For others, it takes time and effort. You may have to make a conscious effort every day to forgive. To say, "I'm letting this go. I'm not going to invest hatred, bitterness, anger, resentment in this person anymore." You can find closure in forgiveness.
You can't change the things that happened in your life, but you can decide how you interpret and respond to them. If you didn't receive support when you needed it, give it to yourself now.
Listen to your thoughts. What are you saying to yourself? Write them down without censoring them. Is what you're saying fair and true? If not, generate new ways of thinking. Someone may have said horrible things to you long ago, but it's possible you took over for them when it stopped. "Mind control is actually mind occupation" and is something I repeat to my clients often. Replacement thinking means replacing a negative thought with a positive one. The Bible speaks of "putting off the old and putting on the new".
Consider what you need to do to get emotional closure. Ask God to help you or rather ask him to "do it through you."
Share your experience with others. Finding a lesson in what happened can help put the experience in perspective and your emotions in check. People can thrive and suffer at the same time.
Chris August wrote a song called "Seven Times Seventy." It speaks of choosing forgiveness over and over again throughout our lives. My daughter loved it and posted it to me shortly before her death.
As a young woman she also penned an article titled "The Healer." She told of a dream she had that consisted of some real life events intertwined with God's answer to her pain. She told of hot coffee repeatedly being spilled on her throughout the years and in the dream Jesus was there and he was touching the wounds from the hot liquid. With every touch came complete healing of the scar. Peace washed over her as she awakened and realized she could indeed be free from her past.
And so can you, my friend. You can be free from your past and begin again in 2012 to make it the best year yet.
Choose the ways of the healer and allow him to touch each wound and make you whole again.
(Kimberly Morgan, MA, is a wife and mom in Elkins. She is counselor/chaplain at Cornerstone Christian Counseling/Kristin's Hope. She can be reached at 304-637-1109.)