Faith

The Power of Forgiveness

How to bounce back after being hit really hard

Everyone gets hurt. We all have battle wounds, scar tissue, and jaded memories that threaten to drain our energy and waste our time.

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Some of us move quickly beyond this pain and “let go,” but many of us sink deeper and deeper into the quick sand of resentment and mental anguish.

As a priest, it has been painful for me to see what a lack of forgiveness can do to families, groups of friends and the work environment. Hidden tensions and anxieties often surface in unrelated outbursts of anger, and you can readily see the tiredness and frustration in these unforgiving faces.

Related: After the Attack, Forgiveness

Inner peace simply cannot be had without forgiveness. You become imprisoned within your own little world, and this creates thick blinders that prevent you from seeing the good and the beautiful in God and others.

You become imprisoned within your own little world and this creates thick blinders that prevent you from seeing the good and the beautiful in God and others.

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I recently posted a few photos while on vacation with my family in Oscoda, Michigan, mentioning how wonderful it was to be with my mom, my siblings, nephews and nieces. A gentleman sent me a note shortly afterwards saying it was painful for him to see these happy photos and read my message. He said he is separated from his family, there are deep wounds in his family circle, and they simply do not get together.

This should not happen. Life is tough enough for all of us, and we need each other as a band of brothers and sisters to work through our struggles.

I know we are talking about serious injustices and wrongs against you that should not have occurred, and these pains run deep, but the healing comes from trying to let go and trying to move on.

Related: What Our Enemies Teach

It’s not easy to bounce back after being hit really hard, but I hope these simple tips will facilitate a quicker recovery in your personal forgiveness process.

1. You can’t forget, you can’t deny the injustice that was done to you, and you do not necessarily need to become that person’s best friend.

2. Sincerely pray for the person who has hurt you. This is a huge part of your healing process.

3. “Hurt people hurt people.” You never know the hidden suffering and history of the one who hurt you.

4. Let it go and give it to God. Do not allow valuable time and energy to be wasted on a past hurt. The mosquito bite doesn’t get better by scratching it! Pour yourself into the present moment and turn on the love switch.

5. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. Focus more on all the good that God and others are causing in your life.

Fr. Michael Sliney, LC, is a Catholic priest who is the New York chaplain of the Lumen Institute, an association of business and cultural leaders. 

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