CANDLE in the storm: Forgiveness: An important step in recovery

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“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” – Micah 7:18-19

Sometimes the key to breaking free from an eating disorder might be forgiveness. Many people with eating disorders have suffered betrayal, been abused, been wronged, rejected, or disappointed by others in the past. These experiences may have likely been one of the key triggers in the onset of their eating disorder.

The thing about forgiveness is that it doesn’t just happen like that. When someone wrongs us or hurts us in some way, it is human nature to want to ‘get them back’ or hold their wrong doings against them. But choosing to hold it against them is actually more harmful to ourselves, than it is for them. To forgive someone for their wrong doings is hard – but it will be very freeing for you in the long run.

No doubt we have all been hurt by people at some point in our lives. To forgive is not easy (and I say this a lot). But what exactly does forgiveness mean? What does it mean to ‘forgive someone’?

Well, to forgive someone means that you acknowledge the fact that someone has wronged you, but it doesn’t hurt you. It means you know that their actions were wrong, but you choose not to let those actions control you anymore.

However, what forgiveness doesn’t mean, is that just because you forgive the person, they shouldn’t take responsibility for their actions.

It doesn’t mean that you forget what happened or that you’re saying that their actions were okay. Because sometimes the hurts we experience as a result of their actions…are just hard to forget.

BUT!!!!! Forgiveness will help you no longer feel the urge to turn to other coping mechanisms in order to numb the pain inside you. And that is probably one of the most important things about forgiveness.

If you are finding it hard to forgive someone, then think of forgiving them in the sense…that by doing so, you’re doing your own self a favour. Remember that by forgiving them, YOU are giving yourself that freedom by breaking that persons’ control over your life and emotions.

Think of how others have forgiven you in the past; and how God has forgiven you for all your wrongdoings. He would wish for you to forgive others just as He has forgiven you. God sent His only son to die for our sins – sins that He didn’t even commit! That is how much God loves us despite our sins. So why can’t we show the same love towards others?

Pray to God. Ask Him for the strength to help you forgive, and for the healing that will come after. You may need to forgive the person several times. Maybe after forgiving them the first time, you’re still hurting on the inside. Then forgive them a second time, third time… keep forgiving till it no longer hurts. The day will come, don’t give up. By doing so and allowing yourself to completely let go, only then will you be able to experience the freedom that forgiveness will bring.

In eating disorder recovery, forgiveness is a process. It’s not a simple step. Don’t beat yourself up over it if you’re finding it hard to forgive someone – be patient with yourself and remember that you want to be free of their actions over you. You want to recover from your eating disorder and truly live the life God has in store for you. Forgiving brings freedom. And freedom brings life.

Tiff, currently studying in Australia

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