The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget. – Thomas Szasz

Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace. – Jonathan Huie

Years ago, a wise person told me that the road between offense and forgiveness is long. My own life experience confirms it is so. I will be the last person to preach the urgency of it, though it is a precept in scripture. You will not find lofty sentiments here.

I know how hard it is when the pain cuts deep and effects are long lasting. Lend yourself enormous grace on your travels. It takes time, distance, and mental gymnastics to overcome. No matter how long you try, from time to time you might feel a sting.

Do we hold onto fury or edge toward forgiveness? For the benefit of our own mental and physical health, moving toward forgiveness is most beneficial. This does not require reconciliation or continuation of a dangerous relationship. In fact, it is best to let repeat offenders go to protect welfare, wellness, and move on.

I have discovered several strategies to make letting go of offenses and offenders easier. They include distancing or ending the harmful relationship, understanding the underlying dynamics of the offender, and reliance on spiritual principles regarding such matters. Most importantly, becoming an admirable character in the face of trial contributes to a healthy and beautiful life.

Those of us who have struggled with unhealthy living conditions, abuse, and subsequent mental or physical health issues realize that we cannot recover in the same environment that made us sick. We cannot continue to surround ourselves with the same people and behaviors that create unhealthy mental states and environments. We cannot allow people and conditions in our lives to continue to harm us once we have dedicated ourselves to becoming healthier.  

Some relationships are easier to let go of than others. Sometimes it might be necessary to create distance and have limited contact. Other times it might be vital to end exposure all together. Whatever it is that you need to do for yourself, you do not owe anyone an explanation or continued contact.

Understand that some people are wired to misunderstand you. They don’t care for your welfare and are concerned only for their own interests. People like this will often emotionally or psychologically manipulate you and others in an attempt to stop your forward movement toward a healthier life. Don’t fall for it. Stand up and do what’s best for yourself. Keep going.

Most people who are disinterested in the effects of their behavior on others are deeply damaged individuals, themselves the victims of some type of abuse or misbehavior that resulted in fissures in the foundations of personality. It is important to be clear that all people have a choice about how such incidents affect their own lives. You are not responsible for anyone else’s recovery other than your own. You cannot fix damaged others. You can only save yourself.

Whether you ascribe to karma, what goes around comes around, or Biblical principles that vengeance belongs to God, and He will repay, lean on your own understanding of the meting out of divine justice. If you are able to believe in something like this, it becomes significantly easier to release yourself from the burden of bitterness.

Last, become your strongest, best, most beautiful, and gracious self in the aftermath of brutality you have suffered. This is a long-term plan, and one which will always make you happy. When you become the best version of yourself, you will be able to create the kind of life that honors your existence and can contribute positively to the welfare of those you hold most dear.

Yet, it is perfectly normal to experience bouts of fury. In those moments, re-frame your thinking and behavior back to the above strategies and continue the upward climb up the spiral staircase to your best self. Give yourself grace. I am rooting for you!