Forgiveness and Feelings

Dear Catholic Answers,

My feelings are very difficult for me to verbalize…but I hope that you will bear with me and please give me your advice and help me with any words of comfort that you can give me.

Like any other human being, I have been very hurt throughout my life by people who treated me very badly, and I struggle to forgive them. I feel as if I go through up’s and down’s with my feelings. During some times, I feel as if I would forgive those people so easily and forgive them wholeheartedly without any reserves. I remember the time when I saw Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ - I was so filled with emotion that I felt as if I would forgive all my enemies wholeheartedly. However, there are other times when I remember how my enemies had hurt me and put me through unspeakable stress and pain. And at these time, I am so filled with hate and anger against them, a feeling of total revulsion and disgust at them. I experience **extremes **of these feelings - hate and total forgiveness - in a repeating cycle. On some days, I feel so much forgiveness, and I imagine that if those people who hurt me would just apologize to me then I would totally embrace them and forgive them wholeheartedly without any sense of reserve. However, on other days, I cannot ignore and forget the many times that they humiliated me and hurt me. I don’t know what to do because my feelings go UP and DOWN and DOWN and UP. I feel so strange - On some days it is so incredibly easy to forgive but on other days it is hard to forgive because I keep remembering how they hurt me and relished in my pain. Please give me advice. Can you guys relate to how I feel? Can you guys please share some stories that you personally have experienced? Please help me.

God bless,

When we want to do the right thing and forgive someone, we need to remember that forgiveness is an act of the will and may not necessarily come with feelings.

When we are tempted to be annoyed with how a particular person has and continues to hurt us, we can give that person to the Lord, and tell Him that we want to do His Will and forgive that person. It may very well be a struggle, and that person will come to mind again and again and we may feel annoyance. But. if when that happens we again go before the Lord and give that person to Him and ask for the grace to continue to commit that person to Him, then He accepts that.

Sometimes feelings will follow, sometimes they will not. We can’t do much about our feelings, but we can make an act of the will to do God’s will.

So, as long as we have the desire to forgive and keep giving that person to the Lord, He accepts that.
We can make an act of the will to do so.

But, remember that we can’t shut off our feelings, but just need to keep struggling and giving the person to the Lord. He knows how to deal with that person, and what graces he/she needs.

My wife and I have experienced a similar scenario over a legal matter soon to enter it’s 4th year. It was not until we added to our morning offering prayer, by name, the individuals who are involved that we began to feel relief from our anger. From there we began including them by name in our intentions for offering up our Mass, Communion, and Rosary’s and through praying for them, daily is how we found the way to enter into forgiveness.
“…as we forgive those who trespass against us…” that is a promise that we make to GOD in asking for HIS forgiveness, and unless you begin to pray for those who hurt you, the pain and emotional highs/low of hate will not pass.

Forgiving is something you do for your own peace of mind. Forgiving does not mean you condone what was done you or excuse the people that hurt you. As others have said it is an act of will where you decide to forgive and ask for God’s grace to help you.