If you were to look up the name meaning of my name, Anya means "to have favor and grace."
I discovered the meaning shortly after having a conversation with someone about the importance of forgiveness.
I’ve struggled with what forgiveness means in my life. Does it mean the person that hurt you pays no consequences for what he or she did? Did it mean giving that person a second chance? Or does it simply mean to put to rest the hurts and pains from the past and move forward?
Even though my name implies forgiveness, I have never had the knack for forgiving others easy. I also held grudges against anyone who hurt me, even if it wasn’t intentional. I was a hypocrite; I expected others to forgive me and give me multiple chances, but I could never do the same for others. A wall rested between my desire to forgive and my desire to seek revenge by hurting people the same way they hurt me.
For those who know my story, I was molested by a family friend, Gilbert, for six months when I was 9-years-old. Gilbert also tried to kill my father after my dad refused to drop the charges against him. For years, I held on to the hurt he inflicted on my family and me. Most of my energy was spent in remaining tormented by what he did and angry for taking my innocence away from me. My inability to forgive affected my relationship with my family, friends, and myself. The anger seeped over into other parts of my life.
Ten years later while in college, I was sitting in a coffee shop and began thinking about Gilbert again. In that moment came to realization that I was still holding on to so much pain. I thought to myself, “I am letting go of what you did to me Gilbert, and I forgive you. I release you from my life.”
Two days later, my father called me and he said, “Anya, three days ago Gilbert died. But, I also wanted to let you know that Gilbert called me and told me he was sorry for all the pain he caused our family and most importantly, what he did to you. He hoped that you’d be able to forgive him one day.”
I couldn’t help but begin to cry. Two days earlier I had just forgiven him in my heart, and it was all coming together. I felt a peace within me and forgiveness took on a different meaning.
“Forgive and forget,” people lament when telling someone to move on. But if we aren’t taught what forgiveness is or better yet, how to forgive, then what good does that do us? It’s not an everyday task like brushing your teeth.
The Webster Dictionary defines forgiveness as “absolving” one from their wrongdoings. But what does absolving mean? Does it mean that if a person is absolved they won’t pay consequences for the mistakes? I believe forgiveness is the act of letting go of resentment. It doesn’t mean you forget, it doesn’t mean there will not be repercussions for their behavior, but you don’t make it harder for that person to get better, and you don’t make it harder on yourself by carrying around the burden of anger on your shoulders.
Forgiveness is probably one of the hardest things to do when one is hurting, because during our pain we want compensation for the hurt that has been inflicted upon us. We say that we'll never forgive that person for doing this or doing that, but in reality, what we're saying is that because we refuse to forgive we are allowing what they did to us to control our lives. The longer we hold on to the anger and resentment towards someone who hurt us, the harder we will find it to move forward without resentment or bitterness.
Inner peace is something I believe we all desire, whether we are working towards peace or not. I believe that it is our responsibility as people now to fight for peace and to strive for healing. I believe that we should never give up on others or purposely allow disunity among people.
How often have we given up on others by cutting off communication or constantly reiterating that there is no hope for that relationship? How often have we denied the efforts of others to draw closer to us, only to slap them in return? I am guilty of creating war and strife. I am guilty of giving up on loving others.
Longing for peace with someone doesn’t mean you have to be their best friend; it just means that you don’t want strife with that person; that you don’t want anger and bitterness between the two of you till your dying day. The effort I put into hating people and being angry with them could have been put into a much greater thing: Forgiving.
And it is my belief that without forgiveness there cannot be peace.
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