One of the hardest concepts for us to grasp in this life is learning how to let go and forgive. It's a difficult concept because we don't know how to let go. We don't know how to shut our brains off from replaying the past and analyzing what happened, what we could've done differently and why things are the way they are.
Whether it was a mistake we personally made, or a person we let into our lives who we've completely opened up to, our downfall is holding on to something we should've let go of a long time ago.
There are six specific reasons holding on to pain and heartache will never really teach us anything of value:
1. The longer we hold bitterness in our hearts, the longer we're unable to grow.
I learned a long time ago that the direct path to peace is to rid ourselves of any unforgiving feelings. When we don't forgive someone (or even ourselves), that bitterness grows within us. It may start out as a tiny seed, but the more anger and bitterness we hold within us will eventually grow into a weed.
As time passes and the weed starts to gradually grow, it becomes harder for us to pull it out. While we may not be directly watering the "weed," so to speak, when we feed into our feelings of anger, bitterness and being hurt, we don't give ourselves an opportunity to grow and move on.
2. The longer we hold on to someone who's not meant to be in our lives, the longer we don't let in the people who are.
Our brains can sometimes act like a movie. They rewind the good parts, fast-forward through the bad ones and pause at what we missed. But, it becomes a problem when our brains stay stuck on one scene.
We cling to people who are no longer right for us. We cling to them because, in our hearts, we either haven't let go, or we haven't forgiven them.
I've been really hurt by people I care about, and even people I love. When something continually happens time after time, you start to build a shell. No matter how hard someone tries to break it, your shell don't even crack or shatter the slightest bit.
As soon as you're able to release and let go of these types of people, the ones who will build you up will come into your life.
3. The longer we choose not to forgive, the longer we hurt.
For some people, it may seem easier to walk around as if nothing phases them, but I don't believe it for a second. While everything affects each of us differently, the truth is, it all affects us in some type of way.
For almost 10 years, I refused to forgive somebody I should've forgiven years ago. I clung to the idea of what should've been, rather than what was. I clung to the past and to the idea that things would somehow magically change. But what I failed to realize was that by holding on, I was actually hurting myself more than anything else.
I was hurting myself because I let it impact every area of my life without even noticing the damage. The longer we hold on, the harder it is to let go.
4. Forgiveness is a sign of strength, not weakness.
To be able to forgive the one thing, person or situation that is consuming you is to be able to completely let go of what's holding you back.
Forgiving what has hurt you is a true sign of strength. It means letting down the walls pride has trapped you in. It means being the bigger person because happiness means more than holding a grudge.
Sometimes it can seem easier to hold on. But, the hard truth is, holding on to something halfway is harder than just letting go altogether. When we choose to forgive whatever hurts us, we are able to come out as bigger, stronger people than we ever were before.
5. While we learn how to forgive and let go, it doesn't mean we have to forget.
Some of the deepest trials I've been through have led me to the highest of places. Forgiving is essential because it allows us to shed off the dead layers and the unnecessary weight we carry around far longer than needed.
Forgiving, whether it is ourselves or somebody else, doesn't mean we have to shove the memory out of our minds. It simply means we are able to let the situation go, forgive the things we aren't proud of or forgive those who hurt us deeply, all without letting it consume us.
If we let it consume us, we allow the scab to keep forming. While the scar may always be there, it's not something we have to forget about completely.
The things that make us strong are sometimes the hardest things we'll ever endure in life, and that's OK. In the end, forgiveness is what truly makes us who we are.