Written by Laura Moseley
My guest today is Laura Moseley from The DV Walking Wounded. Thank you, Laura, for sharing something that is so important for others to see! I commend you for your strength and for teaching other women, all is not lost. Laura is a survivor, and you can be too!
“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”CS Lewis
I learned about forgiveness early on, as a young child. My father always told me, “Those who anger you, own you.” That was the way that he instructed me to not let others dictate my behavior, which opened the door to forgiveness of others. My family was very ingrained in our church, so I was taught to receive forgiveness, I myself had to forgive. It wasn’t until I was a married adult, did I learn the proper way to forgive and “mean it.”
I had NO idea that there was a formula to forgiveness, until recently. I always knew that there was a technique to it, but not that there was an actual formula. I am going to break down the formula, putting my spin on it. I feel like I have massive experience in the “forgiveness” department, after surviving a twenty-six-year marriage to an abusive man AND surviving and healing from sexual abuse from a former boyfriend when I was just a teenager. I have had to forgive these people, even though I’ll never receive a formal apology, to live my life. I also will not allow them to do anything else, ever again. It’s the “Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!” principle.
Step 1: Acknowledge
Acknowledge that an offense happened, one that hurt the recipient (you). Be specific. Example: “My co-worker lied to our boss about taking sole credit for our project.”
Step 2: Consider
How did that offense make you feel? Has it changed your thinking or perception? Mull over what has happened, not making any decisions under stress (either anger or sadness).
Step 3: Accept
Please accept that what has happened (the past) cannot be undone. It is done and acknowledges that it has happened — and do not alter that perception. There is NO guarantee that the other party accepts that. What-ifs are not allowed here!
Step 4: Determine
This is the step where you will “determine” whether or not you intend to forgive the other party/person. This is a pivotal point. DO NOT take this lightly. This point can also dictate the future relationship you will have with the offending party, if any.
Step 5: Repair
Repair the relationship with the person who wronged you. Before any act of forgiveness or reconciliation, rebuild the connection you used to have with this person. For instance, if someone at work has wronged you, you may not necessarily forgive them, but you can let them know that you all have to work together, and you will be professional and courteous to each other. If you say something, keep your word! In most cases, you will be the instigator of this “olive branch,” so to speak. Many people know that they have inflicted a wrong, but “freeze up” and do not try to repair, only to avoid it. Keep in mind that you are “repairing” not “restoring.” If you are going about as if nothing is wrong, that does not solve any problems, but just creates more instances for you to be wronged.
Step 6: Learn
What does the term “forgiveness” mean to you? You really need to define that at this point. To me, I acknowledge the wrong and what you plan to do (or need to do) to correct that wrong. However, I will not forget this wrong, I just will no longer acknowledge that once forgiveness is granted. I am not allowing that wrong to own my thoughts and feelings. BUT, that is my interpretation. As a child, I had an adult tell me that you cannot forgive a person if they do not ask for it. I don’t believe this to be true, now that I am an adult. I have to get to a point of forgiveness for what they did to no longer control my feelings and perceptions. That person may no longer be in your life or may have passed away. You can forgive them and move on, based on time and feelings.
Step 7: Forgive
Actively forgive the person who has wronged you. This may be silent forgiveness, doing so in your mind. However, if you have an issue with someone currently in your life, you should speak the forgiveness. Example: “I forgive you for lying to me about _______. However, this has made me not trust you. I realize that we still have to work together. I will treat you with kindness and professionalism as I always have, but I may not entirely trust you.” The verbal statement may not be met with penitence or compassion, but it is your statement to make. Doing so in a non-threatening way is the way to go. Waiting to introduce it into a conversation, when it is just you and the other party, is best. The silent version is helpful in all aspects, as it helps you to let it go and move on! You may never truly get an apology or acknowledgment that the other party wronged you!
Another point is never to bring this past transgression up if you all have a later disagreement or argument. If you have truly forgiven someone, this is not fair to what is going on in the present! You may recall the past transgression also if there is a history of disagreements or misunderstandings. This may help you to know if you need to cut off the relationship, as a negative history, but DO NOT verbally bring that up. That only adds fuel to the fire and illustrates that it was truly not forgiven. You want to be a person of your word and if you want others to forgive you, you don’t want that thrown in your face. Each transgression merits its own attention! I definitely learned this from being in a romantic/intimate relationship. No one is perfect and I don’t expect my partner to be. I know I am not perfect, so I can extend grace to them — once we talk things through, that is. Communication should be a vital part of any relationship. If it is not, the relationship is not a positive one. Understanding why the transgression happened takes time, but try not to dwell on it too much. You may never fully understand why or how, but acknowledge that you can no longer worry about it! Worrying causes stress, which can shorten our lives. And I’m going to be darned if anyone gets to own my feelings! They are no longer allowed to pay rent inside my head! I release them from that, through forgiveness. I have found life is too short for that, honestly. After everything I have been through personally, I hate no one. Hate is a strong emotion that can kill you. Plus, I do not want to stoop to my transgressors’ negative levels. I am better than that and will conduct myself as such. Not better than the person, but better than the bitterness. Love and light!