When your parents split up, it’s easy to blame them and be angry about it. After all, they (or at least one of them) didn’t ask you what you wanted. Chances are you have been angry about that at some point. You might have talked to someone who suggested that you need to forgive your parent(s). But, how? What does it mean to forgive? Why would you even want to?
What is Forgiveness?
Sometimes we choose not to forgive because it seems like offering forgiveness is saying, “what you did is ok.” The truth is, that has nothing to do with forgiveness. The dictionary (dictionary.com) defines forgive as:
“to cancel an indebtedness”
“to give up all claim on account of”
In other words, forgiveness is essentially saying to another person, “I no longer require ‘payment’ from you for what you have done to me. In my mind, you are ‘off the hook.’” It is not saying there never was a debt that needed to be paid or that what the person/people did to you is ok, only that you have chosen not to continue to demand payment for that act.
Understanding what forgiveness really means might make it easier to do, but it still can be difficult process. We’ll look at how to forgive in another article, but let’s talk for a little bit about why it’s important to forgive.
Why Should I Forgive my Parent(s)?
The short answer is, you should forgive them for your sake. Anger and un-forgiveness lead bitterness, and in the end the only who suffers from your bitterness is you.
One of the things we learn when we are young is that we can not control other people. No matter how much we want people to ask for our forgiveness or admit that they were wrong, there is nothing we can do to MAKE that happen. What we can control is our own outlook and actions.
Holding on to a grudge is a lot like holding on to your anger. You bury it deep inside and hope that whatever has angry will eventually get better. The problem is, when you bury enough anger deep inside and don’t deal with it, you will eventually explode. Similarly, when you refuse to forgive, you bury that deep inside yourself and it begins to breed bitterness and resentment. That bitterness can cause you stress and anxiety. You can end up lashing out at other people as a result of that bitterness and impacting relationships with people who you weren’t even upset with in the first place.
Bitterness is like a bug that eats at your insides. Add in the stress and anger that you’re likely to carry along with it, and refusing to forgive can lead to health problems and other physical issues, depression and all sorts of other problems.
There is a chance that your parent or parents realize how much they hurt you and may eventually ask for your forgiveness. There is also a chance that that may never happen. Either way, when you hold on to that unforgiveness, the one person that it impacts for certain is you.