I see a lot of fear in people’s eyes. It is unfortunate to see people living in unhealthy fear. Unhealthy fear be harmful so I gave some thought to how to live beyond your fear. I grew up living under the fear of my father. I was not afraid of him, nor was he abusive. He carried a lot of fear that I had to negotiate during my formative years. I share this today because I think there is a helpful lesson from my experience. I hope you find this lesson helpful in your journey I wrote about in my last blog. I think fear can lead to failure if it limits are potential. Limiting potential begets regret leading to anger and bitterness.
The only solution to anger and bitterness is forgiveness. A simple definition of forgiveness is a promise never to bring “it” up again.
I first heard this definition somewhere in my long college journey and it stuck. There may be more technically correct definitions, but this is the most practical definitions I have come across. The best illustration of the concept of “make a promise never to bring “it” up again” is strained relationships. Forgiveness is a promise not to keep score against another person for their words, actions, or omissions. In my case, living under someone else’s umbrella of fear caused me to want to avoid and escape to find a situation that was less stifling for a young man. In my case, I moved away to attend college after high school and never lived under my father’s roof again. Again, I emphasize that my father was not abusive and would have welcomed me home. I just knew I would not reach my potential under those circumstances.
In today’s world, I witness a lot of fear. Yet, I wonder if we are limited more by the experiences of our past than the circumstances of today. Some fear is healthy such as the fear of fire, the fear of God, or the fear of poor decisions. This fear protects us. Fear that keeps us from being the person we are meant to be is not helpful. Those who project this type of fear become targets of our bitterness and resentment ultimately holding us back.
Regardless of the circumstances, it is your choice whether or not you will make the decision to forgive, to make that promise never to bring “it” up again. If the target of your bitterness continues to negatively impact your life, some hard decisions are ahead. If this person is in your past, it is time to forgive. Without forgiveness, they continue to cast a long shadow on your life.
We must consider whether or not fear permeates our life and who it limits the richness of life. This is a difficult step. Often times, we suppress negative emotions and force unpleasant experiences out of our conscience. If you carry life-altering fear that holds you back, you may be robbing yourself of some of the richest experiences life has to offer. If you discover events in your history are plaguing your current life, it may be time to pursue a strategy of forgiveness. If your past is not negatively affecting your life, be careful not to wake sleeping dogs.
How have you benefited from forgiveness?