Forgiving gets easier with practice.
For one, you come to the realization that you have no idea what others are going through. They could be going through hard times, a breakup or divorce, a job that’s not working out, financial hardship, illness in the family, you name it.
And if they’re going through really hard times themselves, they’re going to be focused on their own lives and problems, they’re going to be in defense mode, and thus more apt to treat you badly or hurt you, though most likely unintentionally.
And then there are those who never grow up, don’t pursue personal growth or increased knowledge or education, and therefore do stupid things, make bad choices, and have no clue what they’re doing to others in their life, how they’ve hurt you or anyone else through there own carelessness or incompetence. But again, it’s for the most part unintentional.
But then, there are some people who are just plain evil, and hurt you or others intentionally.
But even so, you understand that forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you.
There’s an old saying: Forgive others, not necessarily because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace of mind.
The fact of the matter is, if you can’t, or don’t, forgive them, then they will hurt you over and over again in your mind, because you’ve never let go of it, never released it from your mind. It’s like watching an instant replay of the hurtful incident over and over and over.
Eventually, you’ve got to hit STOP, and EJECT, and be done with it.
That’s what forgiveness is.
The good news is, you can start small. Anne Lamott writes of this in her book Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace:
“I decided I was starting out with my sights aimed too high. As C. S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, “If we really want to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better start with something easier than the Gestapo.”
So I decided to put everyone I’ve ever lived with, slept with, or been reviewed by on hold, and to start with someone I barely knew whom I had hated only for awhile.”
She went on to describe that relationship, how she struggled with it, and how she was then able to forgive the person—and how much she, and her life, improved afterward.
So no, you don’t have to start out with those who have been huge burdens in your life or caused you great pain, or try to forgive everyone at once; you can simply identify the small things that are getting under your skin, and start with those. As you experience the massive relief that results from forgiving even the tiniest of transgressions, you can—and are, in fact, motivated to—move up to the bigger rocks in the jar.
Once you begin to forgive the small things, and experience the peace of mind that results, you’ll be able to move up to bigger and bigger things, and successfully forgive those, too. Before you know it, you’ll find that you’re letting it all go, all that self-imposed weight is being lifted from your shoulders, and you’re finally able to move on.
So even though you may find forgiving others to be difficult at first—it definitely gets easier with practice!