All his life, a personal friend of mine has been struggling to cope with his troubled past. One of three siblings, his childhood was riddled with abuse by his irresponsible father, a man who seemed to almost take delight in physically and verbally assaulting his family.
Now in his late 40's, my friend, the youngest of his three siblings, has quite obviously moved out, and escaped the physical clutches of his abusive old man. His problem, though, is that he can't seem to shake off the ghosts of the past - his low self esteem and emotional damage have been causing problems with his health, relationships, and even his career at a construction firm.
But I knew he could be helped. So a few days ago, I called him up and asked him to write a simple letter.
This letter, known as a 'Forgiveness Letter', would heal that stubborn emotional scar for good. It would wash away the sins of the past, and make him a new man. A fresh start, if you will.
After listening to my instructions, he decided to give it a try. Here is what he wrote:
My Friend's Forgiveness Letter
You must have had your hands full with me as a kid. Like, remember the time me and Mitch got stuck in a tree while you and mom were out buying groceries? Or the day I got in a fight with that bully in fourth grade? You had to come and pick me up from school. I knew you'd be angry. And at times like those, you had every right to be.
But you were angry pretty often. Even at times you shouldn't have been. Like on those nights you came home drunk, long after mom and the rest of us had cleared the dinner table. You'd ask us where the food was, and you got pretty upset when we told you there wasn't any.
I just want to say that I forgive you for that.
I also remember the times you refused to pay for our school trips. So I sat at home when my classmates went to places like the beach, the theater, the zoo. I'd see you going off to the dog races not long after that, telling us you'd come home with a big winner that night.
I feel no hatred towards you, and I forgive you for that too.
In fact, I bear no ill will for everything you did. The times you laid your hands on us and mom. The times you told us we were worthless. The times you forgot my birthday.
I forgive you.
I know that deep down you loved us. Despite everything you did, you'd still take us out for hot dogs sometimes. We went fishing. You gave us good advice. Told us to be true to ourselves. I even remember the kisses you gave us before we went to bed.
But nobody's perfect. And I hope that after all we've been through, you've learned just as much as I have. I'm still here for you. Because no matter what's been said and done, you're still my dad.
*Names changed to protect identities
That, my friends, is a Forgiveness Letter, and it is more powerful than you could possibly imagine.
After writing it, my friend told me he felt a gigantic weight lifting from his shoulders. Almost instantly, he felt better about himself. He's now more optimistic about his job, is starting to see all his old friends and the last I heard, he's thinking about going back into the dating game!
Is it hard to believe that one simple letter could really do so much? Probably. That's why I want you to try it for yourself.
You don't have to be in as much pain as my friend for this letter to work. Maybe you had a small disagreement with a friend. Maybe you've been feuding with an in-law. Maybe you're upset with your boss. It doesn't matter. No matter how big or small the problem is, the Forgiveness Letters will do wonders for you.
How to Write Your Own Forgiveness Letter
So here's how to write your very own Forgiveness Letter. Don't worry, there are only 3 easy steps:
1. Accept Responsibility
Start with accepting responsibility for the relationship with the person you're writing the letter to. Don't victimize yourself, and don't blame the other person for getting you into the situation you're in now.
2. Forgive them for all that they've done
This is the real meat of the letter. This is where you forgive the person for all that they've done. List out everything you forgive them for, if you feel like it. Stay sincere with everything you say, and try not to be sarcastic.
3. Wish them all the best
End your letter on a positive note by wishing them well, and expressing your hope for a better future.
So go ahead and give it a try. If you want, you can post open Forgiveness Letters here in the comments section of my blog. Or if you want to keep it private, just leave a comment letting me know how it worked for you.
I can't wait to hear how forgiveness has released you.
ps. It's advisable not to use the real names of those you will be talking about.