Have you ever considered if forgiveness or lack thereof has an effect on your business? Many would immediately say, “No — Business is Business & Personal is Personal!” right away. Obviously, that is not what I believe. First, let me say right up front that I know forgiveness is a very difficult subject that many of us do not like to discuss, let alone confront in ourselves. I will try to unpack this carefully with you in this article. Please understand, however, if you carry unforgiveness around in your heart, whether from a personal relationship, family, or a business issue, I believe it will affect every area of your life. That is why I think the answer to our question, “can forgiveness can make a difference in your business?” is loud, “Yes, absolutely!”
What Is Forgiveness?
Let’s first talk about what ‘forgive’ means so that we can truly understand ‘forgiveness’.
Definition of the Word – Forgive:
“verb stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.”-Definition from Oxford Languages
My Use & Understanding
My definition is slightly different:
“Forgive – to let go, to reconcile, to free from a burden.”
Keep in mind that I believe our ‘whole’ life – every part of it, has an influence on our business.
One of the greatest gifts God has given me, after my husband, children, and grandchildren (family) is my business. Fourteen years ago He truly dropped it into my lap. What I made of that gift (with His wisdom, counsel, & help) was up to me! You may be asking, “but what does forgiveness have to do with business?” Well, let’s look at that. Remember, I believe the whole person and all of our emotions, affect our business.
Why Forgiveness Is Crucial
Forgiveness is crucial in order to truly have a joy-filled life. To live ‘free from a burden’ to be able to ‘let go’ is not insignificant. It is a huge act that has a lasting effect, sometimes for generations!
I believe forgiveness is crucial because God commands it, PERIOD! Perhaps ‘God talk’ is not what you wanted to hear as a reason for offering the person(s) who hurt you forgiveness. Then let me also say, and aside from God commanding us (which should compel us), IS that forgiveness hurts you more than it hurts the offender. It will bring you freedom from carrying the burden of your past hurt.
How Does Forgiveness Free Us?
Forgiveness frees us from…
What Doesn’t Forgiveness Free?
Keep in mind that I am not saying that if someone did something illegal that this should be forgotten or let go. There are still penalties that must be enacted if the person did something that was not legal.
So forgiveness does not free…
“Forgiveness hurts you more than it hurts the offender. It can bring you freedom from the bondage of carrying the burden of your past hurt.“-Tammy S. Durden
What Do I Know About Forgiveness?
At this point, you are probably asking yourself, “who is she, and what does she know about forgiveness?” Or possibly you are saying, “You have no idea what I’ve been through and who has hurt me, there is no way I can forgive them!” You are right, I may not know you but I bet I know your hurt. I know your hurt because I have been through so much hurt and unspeakable pain myself that I can truly empathize. I know a lot about this topic of forgiveness because I have had to forgive much!
My Forgiveness Story (in part)
I grew up in an alcoholic abusive home. I was the eldest of 4 children and was required to be very responsible at a very young age. I do not share my past very often but it is my truth and part of my story. And it is important when discussing the topic of forgiveness. At some point in my life, I had to make a choice to forgive those who abused me.
- I had to choose to forgive – not for those who harmed me but for myself!
- I had to choose to honor myself
- I had to choose to stop living as a victim
I can share this with you only because I have lived it every day. Every day I choose freedom, every day I choose forgiveness. Some days I do it better than others. And some days someone else may hurt me and I have to choose it again and again. It took me many years to come to the place to make the choice to not live as a victim.
There will be times, even after choosing to forgive that life events will come up that bring up some of those painful events. It does not mean I haven’t forgiven, it means I have another part of my past to work through.
I’ll share a big secret that helped me overcome feelings of unforgiveness in just a few minutes.
PLEASE HEAR ME…
If you are in the deep well of unforgiveness you are not hurting those who hurt you – YOU ARE ONLY HURTING YOURSELF. Forgiveness does not release the person(s) who caused you pain – Forgiveness releases and FREES YOU! Forgiveness is FOR You!
In our minds, we believe that not forgiving the person who hurt us gives us some hold over them. So, you may think you are holding someone hostage by doing this but the truth is you are holding yourself in bondage (or hostage). Most of the time the person who hurt you keeps going on with their life. Quite often they do not realize they hurt or offended you.
You end up as the one who is stuck – stuck in that unforgiveness and they keep moving forward in life. You are the one who stays stuck in the past and relives those old hurts and bad memories. And that only hurts you! In fact, it is a victim mentality.
Are You Living As A Victim?
Do you know if you are living as a victim? It is easy to fall into this mentality. I lived it for years without realizing it. But what does ‘living as a victim’ mean?
LIVING AS A VICTIM DEFINED:
“People who have a victim mentality believe that life happens to them rather than for them. As a result, they are quick to feel victimized when something doesn’t go as planned.”
“Victim mentality is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to recognize or consider themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others. At its core, a victim mentality is a form of avoidance. It’s a way of saying, “I refuse to take any responsibility for myself or my life.”
“In short, you remain stuck and paralyzed by fear.“Lifehack.org
How Can I Forgive?
Now you are asking me, “how can I forgive” or “how can I let go?” I’m not saying it is easy. Yes, I experienced incredible freedom when I stopped carrying around the burden of not forgiving others. I could have held on tight and honestly, I felt I deserved to keep my unforgiveness for what others had done to me. But at some point, I began to realize that nothing could make those things go away.
I was only hurting myself. I also learned, through Bible studies, what God says on the subject. Nothing can make it better unless I take action and STOP living as a victim! Therefore, unless I opened myself up and allowed God in to do some major work I would never change! If anything I would grow angrier and become bitter. I was ready to allow forgiveness in. How about you?
A big part of that work was in recognizing that I was actively living as a victim. Once I recognized this and realized that I truly wanted to be free from my bondage I had to figure out how. I knew, as a Believer, I needed God’s help.
Therefore by dropping that heavy burden of unforgiveness and laying it at His (Christ’s) feet it felt like I laid the burden of the world down. When I allow unforgiveness to stay in my heart it only keeps me held back, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and yes, in my business. That is my choice and when I choose forgiveness it frees me up to be open to anything the day may have for me.
Doesn’t that seem better than carrying all of that anger, unforgiveness, pain, and hurt into your business?
What Happens If I Don’t Forgive?
Do you know what happens when unforgiveness is allowed to stew and really ruminate for a long time?
Forgiveness Does Not Hurt Them – It Hurts You
Well, we have determined that unforgiveness truly hurts you, not the one who hurt you. So, the person who continues to carry it and never really seems to get over it (or heal) ends up bitter and angry. Have you ever met an elderly person who is simply grumpy, mean, or cruel? I know I have met my fair share. Many, unless they have an underlying medical condition that causes this mental state, have often nursed and carried unforgiveness around for years and years.
As a Believer (in Christ Jesus), He is the only reason I can forgive at all. Why should we forgive? For me, it is because God commands us to forgive.
If You Know Me
If you have read any of my other articles (& this one is very different), you know me by now and you know that I am a Believer (in Christ). You also know then that I view everything from a spiritual point of view, including business. No, I do not shove it down others’ throats. Only those who specifically indicate they want a ‘Christ-centered business coach’ receive this type of service.
For me, in my business though, it means I run my business honestly, delivering above ordinary services as much as is in my power, and helping clients using the gifts God has given me (they do not have to recognize it).
God Says So…
Yes, God commands us to forgive one another if we are expecting Him to forgive us (my paraphrase).
The Word actually says:
“14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”New International Version Bible
I Learned This Lesson The Hard Way
I learned this lesson the hard way. The people who did horrible things to me (I will not go into fully here) did not feel any obligation to seek my forgiveness nor seem indebted to me in any way. Therefore it was very evident that my unforgiveness did not hold them bound in any way. It was only holding me in bondage and keeping me trapped in my past hurt.
Forgiving does not mean you put yourself in harm’s way again. Forgiveness does not mean you trust that person, no you are trusting God. Forgiveness is for YOU!
- Unburdens You
- Is Not Easy
- Often Is Not Pretty.
In fact, forgiving is often filled with tears & questions. Forgiveness is also a Journey & it is commanded.
“But if you do not forgive others their sins your Father will not forgive your sins.”-Matthew 6:15
- Knows no bounds
- It does not differentiate between acts – it is not graded
- Takes one step at a time – one day at a time
My Method Of Forgiveness
“If you declare with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead You will be saved.”-Romans 10:9
Perhaps today you can try what I practice. My method of forgiveness is all about prayer and going to God. In prayer, I come before God and simply say…
“Lord, I know your word says I must forgive so I will confess with my mouth that I forgive _______ (fill in name), but I admit that I do not ‘feel’ it. I’m speaking it with my mouth and trusting you, Lord God, to bring to change my heart.”
I will tell you that sometimes I’ve prayed that and immediately have ‘felt’ relief and forgiveness. Other times it has taken much longer. Whether it means praying this prayer for a day, a week or two, months, or years it is worth taking it to God daily. Confess with your mouth and God will change your heart! I am living proof!
We do not forgive because it releases the person we are forgiving, but because it releases us! It frees us of bondage, bitterness, and anger. God can help us to forgive.
That initial unforgiveness, when allowed to fester only breeds anger and bitterness. This anger and bitterness hurts you most but also hurts those closest to you who have done nothing but love and help you. The person you are not forgiving goes on living their life (usually without regard to your unforgiveness). Sometimes even unaware of it. They do not feel bondage yet we think we are holding them a prisoner by not forgiving them. The only one we hold prisoner is ourselves!!!
Let me say that again!
The only person you hold captive and in prison when we do not forgive is… YOURSELF!I
Praying the prayer above can help you ‘feel’ forgiveness when asking God to help you. Please seek to free yourself of the bondage of unforgiveness today. (If you need help with this please ask). God makes us new each day! He gives us the opportunity to start fresh if we seek Him.
Disclaimer: I have over 25 years of ministry counseling experience and over 14 years of business experience but I am not a licensed counselor or therapist. If you have ongoing issues with unforgiveness, past pain, childhood trauma, or trauma of any type please seek a licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.