Being wronged comes in array of intensities. When you have a misunderstanding with a co-worker or when a neighbor unfairly yells at your child, you get upset. You feel wronged. You feel hurt. With such nasty distress, it could bother you for some time. This wrong-doing could sit in your heart and fester to the point of ruining a friendship or causing tension at work or even affecting your work production. I have certainly been there. Looking back, I realize now, it was not worth it. I wished I would have forgiven my co-worker in the beginning. My frustrating, chip-on-my-shoulder attitude definitely made things worse as time went by. In the end, we both lost our jobs for different reasons, but I know in my heart, it all started with a simple misunderstanding that grew into shear hatred for one another.
When someone you trust abuses you, or when a loved one forsakes you, you feel a deep sense of painful betrayal in your heart. The violation of intimate trust or the act of unthinkable violence toward you from someone you dearly love, is unfathomable, and you are left stunned and crushed. This type of wrongfulness can eat at the very core of your well-being. You could feel that it has permanently scarred you. You can try to bury the painful feelings and tell yourself to forget about it and go on. You may distract yourself with work, hobbies or self-medicate with some type of mind-altering substance. The aching is still there, and it starts to affect your reasoning and the actions you choose. You may experience anxiety or debilitating low self-esteem. The betrayal festers and grows.
It took me over 40 years to finally forgive those who so deeply abused me in my youth. I blamed all the unhealthy choices I made in those 40 years, on those awful, early experiences. One day, I realized that I had made many of those same mistakes, selfishly treating innocent people so horrible and justifying it all with my own pain. It brought me to my knees as I realized that my offenders had no idea the pain they caused me as they battled their own demons. I let go of my pain as I forgave with love and I begged forgiveness from those I hurt. I was fortunate. I was also forgiven. It is freeing and most important, forgiving replaces pain with love.
I call the raging emotions rambling inside us, inner, emotional noise. Just as audible noise distracts us, so can inner, emotional noise. 1 Corinthians 13:1 tells us that, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”. My message for people, is to “find your direction in your quiet”. It is impossible to find your quiet if you are distracted by raging inner, emotional noise. How do you stop the raging noise inside you? Forgiveness. To forgive is not about the other person, as much as it is about you. To forgive is to release yourself from the feelings of being hurt. At first, it can be difficult to know how to do this. Once you have gone through the process of forgiveness a couple of times, it becomes easier. You can start small.
The next time someone cuts you off or passes by you speeding, tell yourself that you hope that whatever emergency they are having to rush to, is not one of dramatic pain or loss for them. Ask God to be with them as they go through this difficult time. The next time someone is rude or short with you in the drive thru, think about the accident that their spouse might have had that keeps them from working and how this person must be bearing the weight of the entire family. Feel true empathy for them and ask God to help them as they work through this most difficult time. Don’t take things personally, especially from strangers. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe most rude people are jerks.
When you get the hang of these small acts of forgiveness, you can then work on forgiving your family and close friends when they hurt you. With my family, I pick my battles. I tell myself, “walk away and take a deep breath”. Then I ask myself, is this something I can let go of, assuming my family member overreacted? If no, then I gather as much kindness as I can and ask them if we can talk. Usually I find, that it is a misunderstanding from something I said or did. Does this always work? No. When this does not resolve the hurt I feel, I just have to let go and tell myself it is not worth getting sick over. For me, this part of the process usually lasts a few days. I think “progress” not “perfection”.
Hebrews 12:15 says “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled”. God tells us to love each other. In 1 Peter 3:8-9, we are told, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing”.
When you can calm those raging feelings of being wronged and find your quiet within by forgiving, you can work toward finding your direction in life which most certainly leads to joy and purpose.