Forgiveness: agita, anxiety, and alienation
At my Christian counseling session recently, I was challenged to forgive my former boss for the wrongs she had done against me. While I’m not super bitter about it or angry at her, somehow extending forgiveness to my former boss seemed like a challenge.
It still is.
Last night, I prayed and meditated on trying to forgive her. I tossed and turned the idea over and over until I fell asleep, unable to extend forgiveness.
True forgiveness is not necessarily about me telling her that I absolve her of the wrongs she committed against me but rather that I let it go in my heart, mind, and soul.
Of all people, Jillian Michaels wrote about forgiveness in her book, Unlimited: How to Build an Exceptional Life.
“Here’s the thing, though: forgiving the a*****e isn’t for their well-being, it’s for yours. If you can’t forgive the things that have been done to you…then you won’t be able to move on with your life. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. Nor does it have to mean letting the person back into your life to hurt you again. It simply means healing the hurt that’s been done to you and continuing to pursue a prosperous, meaning-filled life.”
Michaels goes on and, I think, imparts some wisdom:
“[Forgiveness] will enable you to stop taking on other people’s issues and stop allowing their shortcomings to define who you are. You will understand that what happened to you wasn’t because of your limitations but because of the other person’s. For this reason, forgiveness comes when you are truly able to gain understanding and empathy for the person who hurt you.”
Forgiveness has physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. Holding on to a grudge can cause a host of ailments, including (what I like to call) agita, ulcers, and high blood pressure, to name a few. Not letting go of a wrong can cause anxiety, depression, and obsessive thoughts. And spiritually, it can alienate you from God or, perhaps, whomever or whatever you call a higher force. Being consumed with anger and bitterness can also get in the way of relationships with other people. There’s a fear that someone will treat you similarly.
I was in the fortunate position of knowing that I wasn’t the only one my former boss mistreated. Time after time, God showed me that I was well liked among my former coworkers. This gave me the confidence to move on to my next job without pretending to be someone I was not.
I’m trying to extend forgiveness. Trying to put myself in her shoes. Trying to accept the fact that she feels she’s done nothing wrong but is who she is. I am who I am. And I am a person who will extend forgiveness to her.
Right now is just not that time.