The Power of Forgiveness
By Tamara Fyke
Although we are surrounded by the beauty of lights, wreaths and snow, the holiday season can be an incredibly painful time for many of us. Perhaps, it’s because we have been estranged from loved ones for years. Maybe it’s because we are afraid of being under the family microscope. Or perhaps death or divorce has shattered our idyllic image of the holidays. Whatever the reason, even in the midst of all the carols and excitement, the holiday season can be a trigger point for even more trauma.
Confession: My name is Tamara. People have hurt me, and I have hurt people… even during the holidays.
We hurt each other with our words, attitudes and actions — sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. However, if we hold onto every little thing that people do to us, we build a wall around ourselves; we don’t let anyone get close. We may think that we are punishing others for the wrong they did to us, but we only end up hurting ourselves. We wind up lonely.
Forgiveness is putting another’s wrongs behind, letting go of anger over a wrong. I find myself regularly needing to forgive people who have hurt me. Sometimes the hurt is from the past. Sometimes I’ve even forgiven the person for the same thing many times before. But if that person comes to mind and there is a twinge of pain, I know there is more forgiving I need to do. Forgiveness brings freedom to our hearts and our relationships.
Whether we like it or not, the people we know shape us and our view of the world. We owe it to them and to ourselves to keep our relationships in order. I don’t have all the answers. Some of us have been through some pretty horrible things with people, and we wonder how we can ever work it out. Even if we never see some of the people who have hurt us the most, we can work through this process in our own hearts in order to be free of the pain.
There is a fine line between love and hate. The people we love the most are often the ones that hurt us the most. That hurt binds us like a chain. Whether we’ve been hurt by mean words, jealousy, betrayal… whatever our story may be, we need to work through things with the people in our big world, at home, at school and even in the workplace. Put away the harsh words, dirty looks, hard heart, the anger. Instead be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving. We can be free of the pain. We have to talk it out, let others know what we are thinking and feeling. No accusations, just saying, “When you (name what they did), it made me feel (share how it made you feel).”
And if you and I have offended someone we can go to them and say “I am sorry for (name what you did). I was wrong. Please forgive me.” We can’t let them get by with saying “That’s okay.” It’s not okay. We hurt them. Let’s work toward forgiveness.
Have you ever apologized to your kids this way? You’re probably thinking, “No! Why should I do that?” Although parenting is a superhuman job, we parents are human. We make mistakes, and we end up hurting those we love the most. We need to own up to those mistakes and tell our kids we’re sorry. Children are quick to forgive, and their forgiveness is sweet to our soul. How swiftly the problems of the day fade away when we are embraced by our children!
I know it’s scary to be so vulnerable, but let me tell you from experience: people are worth the risk required to love. And so are you. There is such power in those simple words, “I’m sorry… and I forgive you.”
This Holiday Season let’s not settle for surface level pleasantries. Instead, let’s have the necessary conversations that go deep and heal hearts. This will give us a fresh reason to sing “Peace on earth. Goodwill toward men.”
About the Author
Tamara Fyke is an educator and creative entrepreneur with a passion for kids, families, and urban communities. She is the creator, author, and brand manager for Love In A Big World, which equips K-8 educators with a social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum that is both research-based and practical, and also provides the supporting resources necessary to empower students to be socially competent, emotionally healthy problem-solvers who discover and maintain a sense of purpose and make a positive difference in the world.
Tamara is editor of Building People: Social & Emotional Learning for Kids, Schools & Communities, a book that brings 12 wide-ranging perspectives on SEL to educators, parents, and leaders. Follow her on Twitter .
This article was originally published by The Learning Counsel, a research institute and news media hub focused on providing context for the shift in education to digital curriculum.