Once upon a time I was in a relationship with a great guy, who, till this day, is still an incredible person. But we were quite young at the time, and relationships at that age usually don't last. Ours didn't. But looking back on it now, I wouldn't have had it any other way -- and I'm sure he can attest to that too.
Sometimes we're tempted to ask God why certain occurrences happen in our lives, especially if they last only a brief moment, but I've come to realize that there is a reason for everything. And with this relationship, the reason was simple: God was teaching me how to love ... just not in the way I expected.
The relationship was nice, but for whatever reason, it had to end -- and naturally that resulted in hurt. But it was during those times of hurt that I learned how to love more than I ever did when times were great. It was after the relationship ended that I came to know what 'real love' was, more than I learned when I was in it.
Real love was much more than fleeting bouts of romance. It went far beyond all that. It was choosing to love in the absence of feeling -- which I learned through forgiveness.
THE BEAUTY OF FORGIVENESS ...
Forgiveness was the ultimate expression of love. It was choosing to love someone without asking for anything in return. It was choosing to love someone even if they never 'deserved' it. It was choosing to love someone without expecting an apology. It was choosing to love someone no matter how much they hurt you. It was choosing to look beyond all that.
It's easy to love people when they are kind, loyal, and good to us. But can we love them when they aren't? That is the true strength of forgiveness -- the "fragrance a violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it."
And by forgiveness, I don't mean putting up with disrespect or abuse or prolonged hurt. I mean releasing the bitterness from your heart so you can set yourself free. It's acknowledging that things did hurt you, but moving on anyway.
When it came to my past relationship, choosing forgiveness was honestly the best decision I made. I no longer wished for his apology -- I didn't have to wait for that anymore. I was free. And I was happy.
Two years later, he did apologize to me in the most unexpected time. But when it did happen, it was strange; I no longer felt like it was necessary. Sadness and anger weren't familiar to me anymore, because I just saw him as a friend.
TAKE THE CHALLENGE ...
Forgiveness is messy, bittersweet, and difficult as heck, but it's worth it. It translates to every single part of our lives, not just 'romantic' relationships. So next time you get hurt -- whether it's from a family member, a friend, or even a random stranger -- choose forgiveness. Forgiveness isn't a trait of weakness, but a trait of strength.