Someone asked me last week; “How long does it take to heal a broken heart? How long before you’ve moved past the pain, betrayal and loss? How long before it doesn’t hurt any more?” I wearily smiled and replied; “I’ll let you know, as soon as it happens.”
The act of forgiving someone is more than saying the words; “I forgive you.” It is a head and heart change, a spirit and emotional shift that takes time. Forgiveness is a process, a journey, which begins with some of the most difficult steps we can ever make. When someone has consciously, purposefully wounded us, torn apart a relationship, chosen to grievously harm us, there is no; “quick fix” prayer, magical spell or shortcut to a place of healing. To forgive is to make the choice to move on, not hold on to the bitterness and heartache, to allow the offending party and yourself to be free, and this choice is repeated many times.
The path of forgiveness is at first a downward spiral. We journey deep into ourselves and come face to face with the pain caused by the other. We admit and accept the hurt which has been done to us. We then bring the injury into the light by talking about it with someone we trust, someone who can help us navigate the path from brokenness to wholeness. Depending on the depth of the wound, healing, forgiveness, could take years. Remember it is a choice to let go of the blame, the pain and the burden of carrying around an act of selfishness, carelessness and callousness done to us by another. The choice is to hold on to the hurt or embrace freedom of mind, body and spirit. The decision might be made countless times until the impact of the betrayal is finally, permanently, all gone and we find the long, hard path to restoration complete and worth it.
This morning I burnt my tongue. I drank too much coffee, too fast and am paying the price. I’ve scalded my tongue before and it hurts, every time. I don’t like the pain or the sensation when I rub it against the roof of my mouth. There are treatments I could try to dull the discomfort but, from experience, time is the greatest healer.
As I’ve dealt with my injury this morning I’ve reflected on both the damage a tongue can receive and deliver. What if hot beverages and spicy foods weren’t the only ways to harm our tongues? What would happen if our tongues were burnt when we used words that were too hot, highly charged, and injured another? What if our speech inflicted wounds upon us when they did to our brothers and sisters? How much more careful might we be with careless, rushed, rude, insulting, judgmental language if we too felt the pain our words can cause?
A friend asked me this morning; “How do I tell someone they’ve hurt me?” The question was loaded with obvious pain. I responded; “Why do you feel the need to tell them?” “Because it affects the way I interact with them. I feel a great distance between us ever since the incident happened.” was the response.
I took a breath and then followed up; “What good will it do? Will it make things better? Will the relationship benefit or be further harmed?” After a moment of reflection my friend said; “It wouldn’t help and might even cause more injury to myself and the other person. I’m not even sure they’re aware of what they did.” I then told them; “If it isn’t necessary to speak it, don’t. Come to grips with your grief of the fractured relationship and then, when you’re able, let it go.”
It’s hard to move on when someone we love, trust, depend on, betrays us. Our need for an explanation, to express our disappointment, deep woundedness, compels us to confess and confront the offending party. We tell ourselves we want closure, an apology a genuine word and act of repentance but often, if we dig down, our motivation is payback, to hurt as we’ve been hurt, to cause the other pain.
Wisdom tells the us way to peace of mind and spirit is to know and let go of our suffering not inflict it upon others.