These days, nearly everywhere you turn there’s some type of message on forgiveness. And why not?

It’s pretty hard to argue with the fact that forgiveness is indeed a good thing. Nothing screams strength like being the bigger person and not allowing another individual’s actions to rule your emotions…or your life.

However, the problem I have lies more in the mad dash to the finish line of forgiveness. Not in the forgiveness itself.

We hear the reminders almost daily.

Somebody did you wrong? Turn the other cheek.

The love of your life ended up being a disloyal jerk? Let it go and move on.

Sometimes we even see family members of victims of senseless tragedies plastered across the news claiming to forgive the perpetrator just days after the fact.

For me that’s a hard concept to grasp.

If you’ve mastered the art of forgiveness, more power to you. I’d be remiss to ever try to assign a timeline to someone else’s emotions. Nonetheless, I find that forgiveness, true forgiveness is a process. One that takes time and can’t be handed out as easily as penny candy on Halloween night.

Do I hold grudges? I would like to think not, though I’m sure some would disagree.

Honestly, with so many voices urging and promoting forgiveness, it can be a pretty unpopular stance to reject the sentiment. And don’t have the nerve to identify as a spiritual woman… that only opens up a whole other can of worms.

Trying to decipher between what’s right and what’s real can sometimes feel like a losing battle.

But here’s the thing, forgiveness is absolutely necessary. It just shouldn’t always be first.

It’s my personal belief that before you can forgive you have to feel.

So often, we’re encouraged to push our feelings to the side, suck things up, and extend an olive branch. While there may possibly come a time when those actions are required, not allowing yourself the time to process the situation at hand does a disservice not only to you, but also the recipient of your so-called forgiveness.

How many times have you claimed to put something behind you only to find yourself still upset about it days, weeks, months, or even years later?

How many times have you wrestled with a particular situation in your mind, replaying it back and wishing you said or done things differently?

When Solange’s ‘A Seat at the Table’ album dropped last year it was filled with all types of #Yasss Moments. One of the lyrics that stood out most in my mind was on the track entitled “Mad”.

She simply said, “I got a lot to be mad about.” In essence she claimed that not only did she have a reason to be mad, but it was her right as well.

In my opinion, acknowledging and owning your own feelings is just as powerful and freeing as forgiving the actions of others. How can you truly forgive if you don’t first recognize how you feel and why you feel?

Forgiving someone before you allow yourself the time to reflect on the situation is like cutting across the grass in an obstacle course and claiming you’ve won because you made it to the finish line first.

I don’t want those type of victories.

I strive for my forgiveness to always be pure. Intentional. Sincere. I want my forgiveness to truly be forgiveness. I won’t be rushed, bullied into it, or beat over the head with bible verses until I admit that I’m wrong.

When someone has wronged you, you have a right to feel however you feel – that’s human. Negating and denying your feelings… not so much.

They say that forgiveness is ultimately for you anyway, so whether you achieve it in 2 days or 2,000 is really up to you.

One thing’s for sure, when you’ve been hurt, it takes a whole lot of empathy, maturity, and compassion to put it all behind you and let bygones be bygones.

Though forgiveness doesn’t always ensure the restoration of a relationship, it always closes a painful chapter in your book of life.

Forgiveness is always the right choice, but for me, it just can’t always be first.

Why Forgiveness Isn’t Always My First Choice

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Tanith Rice-Harris
Tanith Rice-Harris is a wanna-be stay at home wife, mother and an aspiring romance author. She spends her days being creative, searching for good music, and trying not to suck at life. Check her out at: www.sunnyharris.net or on Facebook @tanith.riceharris.