Forgiveness is hard. Forgiving others really feels like someone is pulling my teeth.

I will think of every reason NOT to forgive a person. I will remember to the T what you did, when you did it, and, even, what day of the week it was. And even if it's one mistake versus ten good moments that we had, I will struggle to forgive you. Why should I be the bigger person when you don't deserve to be forgiven? Forgiving someone is letting them win, I thought. "Thought" being the keyword here.

As time passed, I've learned the beauty of forgiveness. But no matter how much I may practice forgiveness, it's never easy and there is always places to grow.

Forgiving, when YOU are ready, is taking back the power and giving yourself control. It's not allowing the situation to hold a negative place in your heart and mind. You are setting yourself free and giving yourself the freedom that you deserve. So maybe the other person will win because you forgave them but you win just as much, if not more.

You help them to learn about forgiveness and giving one another the benefit of the doubt. And you also let yourself move forward from something that was only harming your sanity.

And if I truly think they aren't "worthy" of forgiveness, why should I be? We pray to God to forgive us for all our sins that we've made multiple times before and a lot of those sins will be done again. Yet, God forgives us every. single. time. He knows we will sin again and He still forgives us and welcomes us back with open arms.

How can I sit there and pray for God to forgive me and turn around and put someone down for something I am just as guilty of?

I was in confession a few weeks ago (several years too late, to be quite honest), after finishing my rant of sins (probably forgot a few hundred but it's fine), the Priest looked at me and asked, "have you forgiven yourself, my dear?" I had to really process what the Priest meant. I thought I misheard him. I was completely taken back by what he asked because I've never thought about forgiving myself but he brought up a point that I think we all need to recognize.

Just as we forgive others, we need to forgive ourselves for being human.

Forgive ourselves for not knowing better. Forgive ourselves for knowing better and yet, doing what we shouldn't do. Forgive ourselves for our past so that we can be completely present in today.

I'll still bring up choices and decisions I've made in the past and put myself down in the present for those actions. So even though I'm growing in forgiving others, my heart is still dark because I have yet to forgive myself. When you hold onto those feelings, emotions, and anger toward others, your heart will turn black. Not literally but it will cause you to have this dark vibe from the inside out.

It starts with your heart and it will seep into your face, your attitude, your vibe, and your aura. Whether you notice it or not, people around you will. Remember: glow > pride.

When you start to forgive others, you lighten up. Your smile comes out more, the light in your face shines brighter, and that weight of hate and anger will start to melt away. Do you know what will help the last of the judgment melt away? Forgiving yourself. Just as you welcome back those who you have forgiven, remember to do that to yourself, too. If you can't look at yourself and say, "I see you. I don't judge you for your mistakes," no one will. It will weigh on your heart and shoulders.

If you can let go of your past and others' pasts and move on, you will start to glow.

Sometimes people hurt you so deeply so you don't want to let them back in and that is also OK. It is OK to forgive someone and not want to let them back into your life. I understood it wrong for too long. I used to think that forgiveness goes hand in hand with forgetting and letting the relationship continue.

You are allowed to create boundaries in order to protect your heart and mind. I believe that part of protecting your heart and mind is the forgiving aspect of it. Forgiveness is letting yourself heal from the situation and taking back the power of something trying to control you.

The important takeaways from this are:

  • Forgiveness varies from person to person and situation to situation. It is learning to let go of situations and people that have done wrong to you and by you so that you can grow. It is also letting go of your mistakes and faults so that you can glow from the inside out.
  • Forgiveness happens at different times for each person — however long they need to take in order to heal and process what happened. I've rushed to forgive someone and my mind kept struggling with questions and moments that I didn't process with that person.
  • You owe it to them and, more importantly, to yourself to take the time to heal and forgive when you are ready to forgive.

Forgiveness is a gift that we should genuinely share with one another and ourselves. The more we forgive, the more we learn to love and not judge one another. That forgiveness we share has to be genuine or else it's purpose is wasted. I have this ugly habit of letting mistakes define people yet I can't stand when someone remembers me only for that one time I did something wrong.

Breaking that cycle starts with the person looking back at you in the mirror: you.

In order for us to be successful in having people forgive more and judge less, we need to lead by example. Start with yourself and the domino effect will take it from there. Let your glow shine, babe. You deserve that.

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