Most of us are never faced with an immediate threat to our lives that would result in death where we are provided with an opportunity to love or hate our offender, where the fate of each of our souls can even be dependent upon how we respond to such a threat. But sometimes those encounters do happen. To forgive immediately though can, and should, happen all the time for your own well-being. Life undoubtedly presents us with opportunities to practice forgiveness every day.
When you are hurt, your natural first response is to feel afraid. This fear comes from our awareness that we are vulnerable human beings and that our vulnerability has just been exposed. We have to be careful though to monitor our feelings because if we don’t, we are likely to resort to the use of some sort of unconscious defense mechanism to push out of our awareness any unpleasant emotion that we experience, especially because (whether we realize it or not) it’s similar to what we experienced as a child.
Another common way to block out unpleasant emotions when we are feeling hurt, is anger and that’s where it becomes potentially dangerous. Anger is self-protective. But it is very primitive and it’s really nothing more than an illusion that we have some sort of power or control over a situation. Think for a minute about how little self-control you have when you are angry.
A prerequisite to forgiveness, on the other hand, is acknowledging and feeling the pain. So, if you choose to forgive immediately, that is, while you are being hurt, two things happen. The first thing that happens is that you abandon your right to anger, which allows you to acknowledge and feel the pain of the injury in the moment. But the second thing that happens is that the pain is lessened each time you make an act of your own will to forgive (love) the person who is hurting you in the moment.
Defense mechanisms and anger have an original protective purpose, but forgiveness is the mature response to injustice and ultimately forgiveness teaches us how to love. To forgive means that you abandon all hatred towards your enemy and that you desire their repentance, so that they may live forever.
Forgiveness takes a lot of time and hard work if it’s not done immediately because the pain is buried deep and protected by unconscious anger. This pain can be debilitating and affect your ability to maintain employment, your relationship with others, and even your health. If you haven’t yet learned how to forgive, forgiveness therapy may help. Then make forgiveness a way of life so that you can forgive immediately.