Forgiveness as a Way of Life

GET OVER IT.

Thats the saying I pep talk myself with daily. Sometimes repeatedly like a war chant. Whatever it takes to remind myself. GET OVER IT. Not people, get over IT. People hurt me, I hurt people. It’s what we do. Hopefully without intent but inevitably we all take turns doing the hurting. And just as easy as it is to unintentionally hurt others, I quickly and almost innately just know how to become bitter. I don’t even have to try. Resentment can even feel natural or deserved. But it’s impossible to harbor any kind of bitterness or content in your heart while simultaneously trying to achieve any kind of happiness.

In my life, forgiveness has become the only option. It’s as if a doctor diagnosed my soul with a fatal disease {called vengeance} and I have no choice but to make a serious life change in order to avoid certain death. You may think that the idea of death being caused by something as silly as unforgiveness is a dramatic exaggeration. Hear me say this, the absence of life is death. When we allow an accidental grievance to grow in our hearts, it becomes a sickness called hostility. Hostility progresses in its ill will silently infiltrating our thought life. Our minds then filter words and interactions, or the lack thereof, through a lens of tenderness and overt sensitivity. Our interpretation is mislabeled as truth rather than perspective so our hurt makes its residence permanent. Now our grudge leads us to defensiveness and we begin to react instead of respond. Reaction doesn’t usually think clearly and plays out looking a lot like retaliation. This vicious, unhealthy cycle can become a habitual way we “deal” with our transgressors. It leaves us all tangled up on the inside, our hearts tied in knots. We aren’t able to live life in fullness, we are barely faking it at all. Unresolved issues leave us unable to have proper, fulfilling relationships. And what is life anyway if we can’t have real relationships? Empty. Lonely. Defensive. Death in disguise.

I’ve decided to take back my life and alter this outcome.

I practice forgiveness like I do clean eating and workout habits. Sometimes by force and a lot of effort, other times with willingness and zeal. Because I am human, my feelings are fleeting and my heart is so fickle. You know the struggle…Sometimes a yoga class after a long day sounds like torture, other days I’m jumping out of bed ready to hike! Most days I just want to eat Mac-n-cheese and milkshakes, but I force myself to eat lean and green. Maybe it’s just me. The bottom line here is that I never regret the practice of health. Key word: PRACTICE. Practice doesn’t mean perfection, I am far from perfect in both clean eating & forgiving. It’s just that… practice. And more practice and more practice. It gets easier, or maybe my heart just adjusts to stop resisting it so much. Either way, it has become overwhelmingly clear that my spiritual and physical health definitely go hand in hand. Rather, I venture to think they are intertwined. When I harbor unforgiveness, it puts me in a funk. That dark looming cloud I politely refer to as “funk” is an entry level form of depression. Depression, when not addressed properly can lead to a plethora of other mental health issues. Without learning to forgive, my life really is shortened.

It starts so small we usually don’t even recognize the seed taking root. It can originate with something as simple as an unreturned text. Asinine, ridiculous, first-world issues.

Left out. Uninvited. Unwanted. Not good enough.

We’ve all been there. Even if you are always the life of the party, you’ve been there. Social media gives us so much more access to each other’s lives now. We can now see so much of what other people are doing on a day-in and day-out basis that we have to deal with an entirely new set of emotional issues because of it. We can see who is hanging out with whom, where they are, what they are doing all day and what time they are doing it. Then we have the ability to cross-reference it to when we tried to get ahold of them… this is insane! Talk about a breeding ground for animosity. As if we needed any more windows for hate and anger to crawl into our relationships?! As it stands already, we all bring our insecurities and hesitations into relationships, add in unknown expectations and you have a recipe for disaster.

I’m reminded of the old adage, “Resentment is like drinking a poison and expecting the other person to die.” I experienced this first-hand recently in real-life context. Okay, I’ve experienced it a lot lately, but here is one example: I was feeling lonely and uninvited in my friend circle. Being one of the only married ones and now with a baby, this happens. So I decided to talk to one of my friends about how I was feeling. WOAH! To my surprise, she was totally feeling unwanted by me! I hadn’t been responding to texts and calls well (I am the world’s worst in this area… working on it!) so she had stopped trying. She was literally punishing me in her mind by not reaching out, responding or inviting me anymore. She had been upset for months and I had no clue! We quickly overcame the awkwardness, thanked each other for being open and were able to move forward better. But it really made me start thinking about how I have internalized grievances with other people in my life and how that was really only making me heart sick and hurt, not them. I realize this is a lightweight example, where some forgiving can’t be resolved so easily. Some forgiving has been dug over years and has hurt so deep it seems you can never reach the bottom.

But I really believe that forgiveness isn’t just a state of being but an action we have to take. Sometimes once, sometimes over and over and over again. Why? Repeat offenders. Whoever coined the phrase “Forgive and forget” was clearly an optimist. It doesn’t always happen so easily where we can forgive someone and move on with them happily as if it never happened. Sometimes the only way to forgive someone is to move on going in separate directions. Remember this though, if we choose to “forget” someone, that doesn’t necessarily stop our practice of forgiving. If its not them we will be forgiving anymore, it will be whoever else we choose to do life with.

The truth is, we are all both the offender and the offended. From our perspective we are naturally the victim; but when we open our vantage point, we see there is more. Realizing we are guilty too (maybe more often than not) makes it so much easier to believe the best in others. After all, I really want the people in my world to believe the best in me. I need grace, I need forgiveness, so I will give it.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t protect our hearts, but there is a point at which we protect with walls that are so fortified they can never be reentered. If we seal too tightly the castle door to our soul, before we know it, vines have overgrown the locks and a moat is being dug to keep acquaintances out with the enemies.

What I am saying is that forgiveness is deliberate. It is taxing in its infancy. It never stops being intentional. But most of all, it is liberating. By letting someone else off the hook, you actually free yourself to live without strife inside. My goal is to practice forgiving so much that it just becomes less like a workout and more like brushing my teeth- a part of my daily routine, multiple times a day!

So cheers- to being reminded every time we pick up our toothbrush- that forgiveness is necessary. It is a part of who we are and who we forever want to be.

 

XO,

Jessie

 

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Comments

  1. Christina
    July 7, 2017 / 10:12 am

    You are one amazing and lovely young lady!

    • jessielatorre
      July 18, 2017 / 12:02 am

      Thanks so much! You are the sweetest!

  2. Stephanie Mac
    July 8, 2017 / 4:40 am

    This is beautiful. Life as a new mom and while I stay-at-home, can sometimes cause me to stay in a bubble, all while watching peering at others’ lives through the window of social media has left me feeling many same feelings. Thanks for sharing. This was such a reminder of forgivensss and perspective.

    • jessielatorre
      July 18, 2017 / 12:06 am

      Hang in there! Your time at home with your baby is priceless and a kind of fun other people dream of one day… Your season is just different from others. Don’t get lost in your feelings, combat them with truth. In it with you!

  3. Chelsea
    July 16, 2017 / 10:40 am

    This is 100% what I needed to hear. I’ve heard a lot of forgiveness talks and sermons, but this was a breath of fresh air! Thanks for being so open and honest.

    • jessielatorre
      July 18, 2017 / 12:07 am

      Such kind words. SO glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the feedback & encouragement!

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