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Forgiveness as personal power

January 27, 2020
Patrick Ward , MOV Parent

Have you heard about the monkey trap? Supposedly, a monkey can be trapped by digging a hole and putting a treat inside the cavity. When the monkey finds the stashed treat, it attempts to take the treat out of the hole but now its hand with the treat is too large to get through the small opening. Because the monkey doesn't want to leave without the treat, it remains stuck there until the hunter comes along and whacks the monkey on the head.

Most of us are too smart to get trapped by a treat in a hole like that, but we can all get trapped by something else. There are things in life that we don't want to let go of, or maybe we haven't found a way to let go of them and move on. Feelings of bitterness, hurt, or the desire for revenge are hard to let go and leave behind. They can essentially snare us like the monkey trap. Hold on to these things long enough, and life will whack you on the head and then you will have regret on top of resentment and bitterness.

How can we avoid that "monkey trap" in our lives? It's a fight that requires strategy. It's about making some hard choices that are ultimately based on priorities and values. One of these values is love over selfishness. The opposite of love is selfishness. Hate is an outgrowth of a self-focus and a desire to hurt the person that hurt you. Staying in that emotional space is essentially like drinking poison and hoping it affects the other person. Love, on the other hand is about valuing the relationship, which on occasionwill require forgiveness. Marriage and family life cannot be sustained without forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the act of letting go. Only when you let go can you be open to something new. Unforgiveness is a fixed mindset in which you are focused on the past, but forgiveness is a growth mindset focused on the present and the future. Forgiveness is both a choice and a process that takes time. Its a choice to not define the relationship or the person based on the past that has been traumatic or painful. Instead, it's allowing the door to remain open for reconciliation now, and the hope for a better future.

True repair of the relationship takes forgiveness AND reconciliation. Reconciliation is only possible when the offending person has shown true remorse and is willing to make amends to repair the relationship. Forgiveness and reconciliation is the choice to allow the offending person to make those amends. When the offending person is not sorry and unwilling to make amends, the hurt person has to focus on forgiveness for their own well-being. This is the choice to not organize your life around the hurt and bitterness. Instead, it's choosing to organize your life around your values and priorities. Its the choice to be better, not bitter.

 
 

 

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