By: Shauna Richardson, Guest Contributor
As I look around society today my heart sinks because I see so many young girls being told who they are, young girls being bullied, young girls desperate for acceptance, young girls starving themselves, and young girls living in such hurt and sorrow. And as I thought about all of these things and how I wanted to write about all of them, I quickly realized that none of these things could be mended, healed, or changed without forgiveness.
Aside from love, forgiveness is the key to absolute freedom, completion, and wholeness in this life. Lets face it. In our lives we will be lied to, used, abused, misunderstood, abandoned, and saddened. We will feel betrayal, we will be knocked to our knees more than once, and with all of that we must and I mean MUST have the ability to forgive. The whole process of forgiveness is not an easy one especially when you must sometimes forgive the unforgivable. Forgiveness isn't a phrase that can just be stated like other phrases can. Looking someone in the eyes and telling them “I forgive you” isn't the same as looking someone in the eyes and saying “Your eyes are blue.” With “I forgive you,” comes absolute acceptance of what that person did to you, and in some cases, that person might even be yourself. Sure, it is easy to say the words, but to actually feel that forgiveness and to not just bandage, but actually stitch up the wound, and honestly move forward with your brand new scar is one of the hardest tasks we will complete in this life.
I recently had a complete transition in my life. And by transition, I mean everything that I knew to be true was either taken from me or proven to be false in a matter of weeks. It was one of the times where you get knocked to your knees. I had been battling anorexia for over ten years, was in an unhealthy situationship, and was at a complete war with myself. I was making poor decisions left and right, lost friends that weren't really true, and had to deal with some harsh realizations. I spent nights crying so hard my entire body shook. I was at rock bottom, the lowest of the low and forgiveness was the last thing on my mind.
However, as I began to self-reflect and peel back the layers of myself to understand WHY I had gotten to where I was (because our destinations are always a byproduct of the choices we make), I realized that forgiveness was the only answer to move forward. I had to forgive myself for my poor choices, I had to forgive the ones that walked out, and I had to forgive my inability to forgive right away. Forgiveness is not something that can just be chosen in an instant. It is something that must be studied from every direction, something that must blossom from your heart because you are ready to release yourself from the pain, the anger, and the sorrow, and not because you simply want to. Wanting to and being able to are two separate things. Sometimes we want that beautiful new handbag or that charming person but we are unable to have in that moment. We can't force the money to show up in our bank accounts, we can't force the charming person to love us, and we certainly can't force forgiveness. However, wanting to forgive is the first and most crucial step.
As I began to slowly forgive I realized that wounds began to heal, the ache from old hurts began to lessen, and my ability to love became more prominent because love is forgiveness. And don't get me wrong, I still have plenty that I have to still work through and to forgive in my life, mostly myself, but the process of beginning to forgive is something that will change your life. Being able to look at the harm that's been done to you and being able to say, “It is well with my soul and I am okay,” is one of the best things you can possibly imagine.
I imagine that each one of you have been through something painful, something that has changed you and I pray that these words somehow resonate with you. Understanding the power of forgiveness will heal you, it will move you, it will catapult you into the next chapter of your life; it will push you into pursuing inner-growth, self-reflection, and a place of peace. And to all readers out there, you deserve ALL of these things. You deserve a new chapter if the one you're in now isn't working, you deserve the ability to reflect so you may heal yourself, and you deserve to be in a place of absolute peace. As hard as it may seem or however trivial it might seem, I urge you to be THAT GIRL and to look deep within and search for pains and wounds even if they are years old, to study forgiveness from every direction, and to allow yourself to unlock the real love that is stored deep within you. It is there waiting. Peace is waiting. That new chapter, that ultimate destination you are striving for is waiting on the other side of forgiveness. Because with forgiveness comes everything. It is everything.
Are you struggling with forgiveness? How have Shauna's words and story resonated with you? Are you ready to forgive yourself?
Shauna Richardson is an actress, writer, and model based out of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Her main goal in life: to never stop reflecting, to help others, and to show young girls around the world their immense worth and value. (photo by Jenna Christina Hellberg)
mage via greatergood.berkeley.edu