I'll Take Forgiveness for $1,000 Alex!

We've all experienced the pain of betrayal, the disappointment of being lied on and lied to or some other abuse or offense. A time in which we're pitted against another person because of something they said or did to us. To err is human; but holding grudges based on the errors of others can lead to a life of bitterness and unhappiness.

Perhaps you are struggling with unforgiveness right now; I offer you the opportunity to make the decision forgive. Unforgiveness has the power to invade your life in various ways:

• Fosters trust issues with others
• Insecurity in all of your relationships, it doesn't just effect the relationship where the unforgiveness resides
• Disrupts sleeping patterns
• Contributes to depression
• Triggers physical health issues

Learning to forgive is one of the most cherished lessons in life and it can lead to a better life. Now is the time to forgive. We are told in the Bible that if we desire to be forgiven, then we too must forgive: "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."(Matthew 6:12, KJV). No matter what the reasons, this is the season to forgive, perhaps the following will serve as a guide:

1. Start with identification. Recognize that you need to forgive someone in order to be happy again. If you wait for someone to resolve the issue that he or she created, you will most likely remain stuck in the same endless rut of unhappiness and frustration.

Recognize that you need to forgive someone, not for his or her sake, but for yours. You deserve the relief of letting the past go so you can be happy again. Most likely, those you need to forgive will be completely unaware of your struggle to forgive him or her, and this will become a private battle within the reaches of your heart.

Recognizing that you need to forgive someone will begin the healing process and move the blocks that stand in the way of your own peace and happiness.

2. Know what needs to be forgiven. Write out or type up a list of people who have done you wrong and associate different emotions and words with them. Who has hurt you? When did he or she hurt you? How did it happen? What impact did this have on your life?

Answering these questions will bring you one step further down the path of forgiveness.

3. Don't hide your feelings. Do anything you can to get out that pent up anger and frustration. Do a form of exercise, like running or kickboxing that will tire you out and release energy. If you're sad, there's nothing wrong with crying or showing sadness. You don't have to put on a brave face all the time.

Talk to other people you trust. Tell them what's going on and how you're feeling. Say everything you've ever wanted to say and get it out. Hiding your emotions will only make things worse. Your emotions will build up before eventually bursting.

Assignment: Write out your feelings in a journal or in an email. After writing in a journal, tear out the page and read it aloud. Be confident in what you're saying. After you read it aloud, throw the paper away. Shred it or burn it. Do something to completely remove it from your life. This will signify negative energy leaving your heart.

With an email, write everything that comes to mind, but don't send it. Leave the recipient box blank, or you can send it to yourself or someone you trust. Delete the email. Like the journal page, deleting the email will signify negative energy leaving your heart.

4. Empathize. Imagine what your life would be like in the other person's shoes. What was something that was going on in their life at the time of the offense? How were they feeling? What were they thinking about?

Don't be narrow minded and stay strictly to your view. Imagining what life was like in the other person's shoes will help clear your own mind and lead you one more step down the path to forgiveness.

5. Open yourself to joy. Leave the old baggage behind and embrace the future. Your old pain is explored, resolved, and settled. Now, open yourself up to joy and satisfaction instead of anger and frustration.

Lastly remember: Forgiveness is a marathon, not a sprint. It can be long and challenging, with many hidden obstacles and forked roads, but I assure you that it is worth pursuing -- step by step you fill find yourself walking right into forgiveness.