It was a hurt that I kept coming back to - those words that had been said, the thoughtlessness that had been acted on. I knew I should let it go... but it just wouldn't let go of me. And so I kept going back to it. Over and over.
I knew what needed to be done. I just didn't want to do it, you understand. But I knew.
That little voice in my heart cried out, "Why? Why do I have to be the one to forgive when I'm not the one who did anything wrong?"
And that was a good question... why do we?
We forgive to allow relationships to heal. Sometimes, without it, they can't. In fact, most of the time probably, they can't without a little forgiveness on both sides. I once had a chance to mend a rift with a friend. We both had hurts, and we talked about some of them. But some we didn't... and those ones were mine. I really struggled with that. Wasn't it okay for me to need healing too? But in the end, I decided my choices were to hang on to that hurt and walk away, or forgive and rebuild. It was my choice to make. But without that forgiveness, there was no chance at all. With it? There was a bit of hope.
We forgive to give space for new relationships to grow. Hurts we can't forgive grow in our hearts. With every pass, they get bigger and take up more space. We focus on them more and more. We begin to give them size and precedence that they don't deserve. And they get in the way of other people's attempts to reach us. We begin to think that the hurt someone else caused is something that is going to happen with someone else, and so we lock up our trust. But when we can forgive what happened before, we allow other people the chance to show up in our lives and show us the good people that they are. We can give them our trust, instead of our doubt.
We forgive to set ourselves free. The answer to why you have to be the one to forgive is because you are the one that is hurting. Forgiving isn't saying that what they did is excusable. It's saying that you aren't going to let it own you anymore. Those things you keep going back to are the things you can't let go. But those things you keep going back to? They aren't hurting the person who said them. They're hurting you. Forgiveness isn't always a gift that you give to them. It's a gift that you give to yourself. It's allowing yourself to not let their words or their actions define you, become you, own you. Forgiveness allows you to let things go and to embrace who you really are... to live your life again.
We forgive because we have been too. Don't tell me you're perfect and have never hurt anyone. I know that's not true, and so do you. Someone else has had to forgive us... and probably many times. And so sometimes the answer to why you have to forgive when you didn't do anything... is because you have in the past. And the only way you can expect to be given forgiveness when you are the one who has done the hurting is to be the person who does the forgiving when someone else has doled out the pain.
And so we forgive. And we heal... sometimes together, sometimes not. And we move on stronger.