Still thinking about your New Year’s resolutions?
Is there a specific relationship in your life that has been difficult to manage?
Are you tired of family drama and just want to find some long-lasting peace in the New Year?
What about something that can be life-changing and promises to make sure you are in control and always come out on top?
If you are interested, then I have the perfect goal for you….it’s daily using the “F” word.
What is the “F” word? Forgiveness. That’s right! Forgiveness. It does not cost a dime and can make all the difference in your health and relationships in the new year
What is forgiveness?
While there are endless ways to define forgiveness, here is mine: It’s when I choose to not let something in the past define or prevent good things in the present or future. It does not mean you have ignored what took place or just “forget about it.” Rather, you are making the choice to no longer allow another person’s behaviors have influence over your emotions, behavior or even influence the kind of day you are having.
Remember that person that we mentioned? The one you need to “keep the family peace with?” Why not make the choice to forgive them? By choosing to forgive another person, the new year can be filled with peace rather than resentment. Imagine that: starting the new year off with peace rather than the rumblings of resentment!
How can the F-word change your life?
First, you will improve your relationships. I cannot think of any relationship that is not strengthened by a forgiving spirit. Parent-child relationships are improved. Marriages are more intimate. And friendships become more authentic. Forgiveness is the life blood in any healthy relationship. Without forgiveness, one cannot love to the fullest potential, walk in another person’s shoes emotionally, nor be patient without having expectations of the other person.
Another way forgiving can change your life is that it reduces your stress level. Resentment only results in physical and emotional stress. Choosing to forgive someone and let go of resentment reduces your stress and can improve your health. Indeed, daily using this F-word can melt away the cold distance that subtly builds between family members.
In addition, forgiving another person is totally dependent upon you. You do not need to have another person’s approval for you to forgive them. You can choose to forgive regardless if it is reciprocated. Either way, you are a winner by choosing to forgive.
In addition, choosing to forgive puts you back in control of your life. When we live in resentment, we may feel like we are in control. However, we are really being controlled by our anger. Think about something you are angry about, or an offense that another person did to you. Does anger, or frustration, immediately well up within you? At times, does the very thing that took place become front and center in your mind? Then in a way, resentment can control you. By choosing to forgive, you take back the control and resentment no longer has any power.
Why do we not forgive?
If forgiveness is the life blood of any relationship, then resentment is its death. Resentment hinders any relational growth. It stunts a relationship by keeping it at the same place where the resentment began. It does not seem to move beyond this place. Resentment can also linger around like a low-grade fever, never really exploding into a full-blown argument. All the while, gaining strength and causing further family division. But, if left alone, little by little resentment can develop into bitterness.
Resentment is also sneaky as it is often repackaged. Often, we may be unaware that we are holding onto resentment. Sometimes it is given a different name other than anger. As a counselor, clients will frequently say, “I am not angry, just a little upset.” Or my favorite one “I am not angry, I am just frustrated.” You can rename it whatever you need to, however it is still resentment. And left alone, it will fester, grow and gradually turn small argument into relational wall that prevent communication and problem-solving.
Another reason we may not forgive is because we simply do not know how. Forgiveness is hard to give away if you have never experienced it. Truthfully, the one person that is often the most difficult to extend a forgiving spirit to is ourselves. It seems easier to let go of resentment towards others mistakes than our own. Regardless, learning to forgive is a journey that can start anytime and with anyone – even ourselves. All that is required is a willingness to let go of the illusion of power resentment gives to start taking back control of the peace that you desire.
Feeling stuck? Some issues may require the help of a licensed professional to help navigate this journey. It’s there for the asking. And usually, the initial step asking for help can feel like the most difficult one. There are also many resources on learning how to forgive. Your local faith groups can be another resource with the additional benefit of community.
So why not start the new year off with more peace with the daily practice of forgiveness instead of the F-word.