"Today is the first day of the rest of my life." I don't know who said it, but I have found it to be true. No matter what happened to me yesterday - whether it was betrayal, loss or any number of circumstances beyond my control - I can move on today in forgiveness and love if I choose to.
16 years ago, I began the arduous process of healing from a cloud of recurring depression which had been with me most of my adult life. But before the healing process could begin, I had to be ready to heal; able to fully understand what the causes of the depression were and able to consciously choose to take the necessary steps toward that healing.
The choice was mine. I could choose to harbor anger and bitterness about the past - condemning myself to a life of emotional pain. Or I could choose to forgive and grasp the helping hand of my Friend to rise above those hurts. It wasn't easy.
So many of my ways of reacting to things were deeply ingrained - almost cast in cement. I had to struggle to overcome the lies that I wasn't good enough and that everything was my fault that resulted from the hurtful actions of a significant person in my young life. Each time that inner critic reminded me of those lies, I had to stop and consciously remind myself of what God said about me - that I am His child and He doesn't make junk. A very time consuming and arduous process!
I know a woman who suffers excruciating pain from arthritis. Medicines haven't been able to diminish her pain and in some instances have made things worse because of allergic reactions.
Ever since I have known her, she has always complained bitterly about how she has been treated by others. Knowing how intertwined our physical, spiritual and emotional beings are, I have to wonder if she would experience a measure of relief from the pain if she chose to forgive those who had hurt her and see herself as valuable in God's sight rather than choosing to hold everything in and complain.
Forgiveness is hard, but its rewards are immense. It doesn't let the other person off the hook for harsh or harmful attitudes or actions, But it does free me up to move on rather than be caught forever in a loop of anger and bitterness.
Forgiveness takes time. I may say I forgive someone, then find myself stewing again a few hours later. I have to go back again and again to consciously choose to forgive. Eventually it really does become a part of me and I realize my heart is lighter; I am moving forward with more ease. Today truly is the first day of the rest of my life.