To enter a relationship is to court pain.
If we truly desire to experience deep, soul-shaking, life-changing love, we have to drop our shields, tear down our walls, and let people into our hearts. To love is to constantly run the risk of being hurt. Loving is staring potential pain in the face without flinching.
Sadly, people who live this way - and love this way - sometimes get hurt. The hurts of the heart are often the most painful. That pain can be dangerous if you don't have the right knowledge and tools to help you recover from these hurts. Many people have opened their hearts to love freely and passionately only to be hurt, and react by building new walls twice as thick as before.
There is a secret tool available to us that will help keep us out of our Fortress of Solitude. That tool is Forgiveness.
Too many people withhold forgiveness because the person who wronged them hasn't suffered enough, or even acknowledged that they've done something wrong. They hold on to the emotionally-cancerous grudge as it slowly eats away at their happiness and consumes their lives. They don't understand the true purpose of forgiveness.
Forgiveness does far more for the forgiver than the forgivee.
Forgiveness is allowing yourself to move on. Forgiveness is letting go of the burden of a grudge. Forgiveness is not allowing someone else's choices to ruin your life. Forgiveness is acknowledging the imperfectness in us all, and chalking up mistake after mistake to being human. Forgiveness is a fresh start. Forgiveness is a clean slate. Forgiveness is a newly opened heart... a heart receptive to love and resilient to the inevitable pain that life unexpectedly hit us with.
Forgiveness is not fair, which is what makes it so beautiful.
Forgiveness is mercy winning over justice. It's love conquering hate. It's new life rising victorious over death.
Forgiveness, like love, is often irrational and counter-intuitive. It works when put into practice by the shamelessly optimistic. Forgiveness is often mistaken for a feeling, when in fact, it's a choice.
Those who never learn forgive will never have hearts open enough truly love... because, one forgives to the degree that one loves.
Who do you need to forgive? How can you forgive more freely? Can you forgive somebody even if the emotions of pain are still present? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments!
Here are some of the books referenced in the podcast: