Deep inside of us a huge rock of anger is buried that drives us to be revengeful. When our partner touches that deep spot in us, we react emotionally much like the jolt we get from something cold hitting our teeth. It is sudden and dramatic, and we don’t know where it came from.
What if you could overcome that anger? What if you could react in a different way? The KEY to overcoming that anger is forgiveness. Forgiveness is something we all talk about, but most of us don’t do very well. I want to dig a bit deeper into how to be forgiving and the amazing impact it will have in your life.
Let’s think about our reaction to anger. Many people make fists with their hands as a natural reaction to anger. This very physical act shows our reaction to anger is about getting smaller. We make our hand smaller and harder. We pull back from relationships. Even our heart shrinks when we hate.
What is the antidote? Forgiveness. Forgiveness stretches out your arms and desires a hug. Forgiveness leans into our partner. Forgives grows our heart. Dr. Suess said it well about the Grinch when he forgave his “small heart grew three sizes that day.” Forgiveness causes 3 benefits to happen in our relationships that couldn’t happen until we forgave. The benefits are peace, rest, and reunion.
1. The Benefit of Peace.
The first benefit is peace. When we forgive we end the war. There is nothing left for someone else to push on. We lay down our weapons. We fight no more. This is a very powerful thing to do in relationships. We are conditioned to think everything is a battle.
My wife of 28 years and I have come to realize there are some things we will NEVER agree on. When I forgive the bitterness I have about some of these things like how to raise our children or spend our money, I don’t say “You win – I lose.” Forgiveness says we will figure this out together. We can do this better than my way or your way.
Let go of your need to win. Forgive, and find the peace you need to fight life’s bigger battles.
2. The Benefit of Rest
The second benefit from forgiveness is rest. While closely related to peace, I want to make a slight difference in how we see the word. Peace is calmness. Rest is healing.
When we pull a muscle, it needs “rest.” When we have been holding anger and hostility toward our partner, we have created stress. When we forgive, we create the opportunity to become healthy. Only after a season of “rest” we call winter does the plants begin to blossom.
I am a first born married to a first-born. We want to be in charge. When I forgive and let go my selfish desires, I create an opportunity for our relationship to be renewed. When I apologize and let go, I plant new seeds in our ability to love each other.
There are some things you just need to let go of. Forgive them AND forget them. Move on. You will find springtime will come and you will wonder why you didn’t do this sooner.
3. The Benefit of Reunion.
Most people know the story of the prodigal son in the Bible, but most people don’t realize it was actually about the older brother and his unwillingness to forgive. While the father forgave his wayward son, the older brother held a grudge, and it destroyed his relationship with both his brother and father.
A few years ago I had a disagreement with someone I loved. I won’t give you the details, but I will say that I felt lied to. I came to realize that the relationship was more important than the issue, so I traveled to see them, not to find agreement, but to ask forgiveness. We still disagree about the issue, but our relationship is restored.
Many of us have ruptured the relationship with the most important people in our life than can be reconciled if we choose to forgive. It takes swallowing our pride sometimes, but the relationship is too important not to move back to a growing and happy place.
So, be brave! What thing has your partner done that you need to forgive? How can you tell them in a humble way? Take the time to clean the slate of past hurts and you will find a new springtime in your relationship will arrive in an incredible way!
If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive. – Mother Teresa
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