When someone wrongs us, we usually react with hurt, followed by sadness and then anger. It is emotionally exhausting to be betrayed by a loved one.
We learn to apologize at a young age. As children we are taught to say "sorry" to those we accidentally injure or those we disappoint, until our habit for apologizing is forever embedded into our subconscious. When we accidentally brush shoulders with a stranger we are quick to say "sorry." When we knock over our mother's favorite ceramic vase, we do not hesitate to issue an apology.
Apologizing is easy. Forgiving is not.
You are going to face many hardships brought on from the carelessness of others. You may experience situations that could have been completely avoided if someone would have considered their actions before acting on them. Disappointment, heartbreak and betrayal are some of the most devastating emotions we feel. And often times, we let how we feel or how we once felt completely overpower our hearts and neglect the logic in our minds.
Why is it so hard for us to forgive?
You don't want to move on
This might sound strange, but as people, we struggle to live in the moment. Emotions are not easily forgotten, and the sting of a breakup, a death or a harmful action toward us can be just as painful today as it was many years ago. Oftentimes we just want someone to blame for what happened and we get so caught up in our own need for justification that we cannot move forward. This goes with blaming others and blaming ourselves. Unfortunately, the past is the past. Unless you invent a time machine, you cannot change the reality of things. Holding on to even the smallest grudge in the past is damaging to our lives in the present.
You didn't receive an apology
We go through life with a give and take motto in our brains. If someone gives us something, we give back. If someone doesn't offer us anything, we usually neglect to offer them goods as well. The same goes with apologizing and forgiving. If someone does not ever apologize to us, why should you forgive them? This idea could potentially destroy you. When you can't forgive someone because of an absent apology, you are continuing to let them rule your life. An apology does not reflect your worth but it does reflect the character of the other person. Being able to forgive those who never apologized is a deep reflection on how strong you are as a person. Forgiveness can lift the heavy burden of any grudge, no matter how long you have been carrying it.
Their action was unforgivable
When someone hurts you, intentional or not, it can be very hard to look past that action. No matter how deep the cut, there is no wound that cannot be healed. Forgiveness is the bandage for your heart and mind. There is nothing more liberating than being able to let go of the past and move forward with your head held high. Sometimes forgiveness takes time. But it is possible, and in doing so you are handed the keys to your prison cell.
You don't know how
In times when you cannot bring yourself to forgive others, there is one person you have to remember who forgives all without exception. God. All of God's children are imperfect beings. We sin, we make mistakes, we murmur against Him, we doubt Him and then beg Him for forgiveness. If God can forgive us for even the most scarlet sin, why can we not forgive others as well? God is the perfect example of how to forgive. When you do not know how to forgive someone or you do not think you are capable of doing so, God is there. Ask Him for guidance and help in the process. He will guide you and show you how. With God, you will find true peace, and find the way forward.
Forgiveness is something that takes time. But in the process, you will find true freedom, peace of mind and your heart will eventually be softened.