Photo: Angela Beyince Instagram

This is The Year Of You or your best, most fulfilling year ever. Instead of making resolutions that will come and go, get ready to journey with us through an intimate, motivational year of self-love, self-awareness with our self-starting guide to help you continue into on of your most accomplished years yet. This is the year that you finally create and stick to your resolutions–healthy resolutions from spiritual and mental health to career goals. No matter your goal, we want to help you reach it. Over the next few months, we’re going to share practical, effective resources and steps to get your on your way–the same resources we’ll be using to accomplish our goals. In this article, we tackle forgiveness.

On New Years Day last year, I made the difficult decision to separate from my husband. Although the past year of my life has been a challenging one to say the least, it’s also proved to be one of the most fruitful seasons of my life. I found the courage to not only stand up for myself, but to also embrace the woman emerging from her once rusted shell. But my greatest lesson of the year started when I realized that I knew nothing of true forgiveness.

Most of us hope that we have a forgiving heart, but when put to the test do you believe in your heart that you’ll have the strength to forgive? When this trait was put to the test in my life, forgiveness became an idea; something that I strived to embody but didn’t quite know how to achieve. I needed forgiveness to spill over into the souls of those who needed it, but I didn’t know how to first fill my cup with the realities of understanding, and compassion and mercy.

The reality for some of us is that oftentimes we don’t know how to forgive. We don’t know how to first fill our cups with the realities of understanding, compassion and mercy. About halfway through 2015, I thought I’d forgiven my husband. I thought I had let go of the pain, disappointment, frustration, anger an confusion. But I still had not confronted the pain. I was still angry. I was still bitter. My past was still in control on this conniving and subconscious level and I was oblivious on how to fix it. I thought I’d moved on. I was finally starting to make myself a priority, and so I thought that this new me was enough. But it wasn’t. I still had not fixed what was broken. I had not healed what was hiding on the inside. I refused to discuss the possibility of a continued future with my husband because my mind was made up on untying the knot. I was hell-bent on dismissing broken vows and starting over. But then God said, “Not so!”

To say forgiveness is an art would be an understatement. Living with a heart heavy with unforgiveness can be burdensome. As we start off the new year excited to make positive change, we must also make time for deep self-reflection. We must remain humble and constantly aware of our growth so that we can continue to mature. Always be willing to examine yourself and search for ways to improve upon your magic. Life will always try to beat you down, but you have the final say. You have the power to respond to your circumstances in such a way that maximizes your growth curve. You have the power to forgive. There is no exact roadmap for how to completely forgive someone. But you have the power to forgive. You have the power to let go of what you expected the past to be so that it does not hold you hostage.

Your past may try to seize control of your purpose on this conniving and subconscious level, leaving you oblivious on how to fix it, but here are four pearls of wisdom about forgiveness that I believe can assist in making your 2016 a fruitful and prosperous year.

Check Your Ego
During seasons of trials, our ego has to go through its own grieving process. It must learn to let go. Your old self may be wrapped up into this false impression of what your “happily ever after” is supposed to look like–whether that be a relationship, career or [fill in the blank]. But life is not a Beyoncé song and there will be times when you may need to check your ego at the door and re-evaluate what’s important. You may need to identify areas of personal change in order to thrive as your best self. One way to check your ego is to first confront the demons of your past and then work on restoring, rebuilding and rectifying the source of your joy. Your peace and happiness should not be based solely on the actions of another. It must first come from within; from the spirit of “I am” that breathes life into your soul.

Before I could really forgive my husband, I had to first learn what forgiveness really consisted of. I had to then get to the root of my anxiety, discontent, borderline major depressive state and be intentional about fixing it rather than playing the blame game. The truth of the matter is that I was broken before I even bound myself to my husband, and so the blows of disappointment and disrespect only caused further damage to an already warped and twisted sense of self.

Find Your “I Am”
Know who you are and be intentional about maintaining your personal identity. I had to figure out who I was outside of my husband, and then find the courage to cling to her even after facing the woman in the mirror. This will be an ongoing process, but an active one nonetheless, so trust it.

When I met my husband, I felt like his loving me and my loving him was my way out. It was my fresh start. He was my opportunity to leave my past behind and create the life I thought I needed. You may be young and still finding yourself in the world. Be careful not to look for others to fill the missing pieces of yourself that you may reject. You may feel that others love you when you may not even like yourself. Maybe to the point where your sense of self is shattered at the idea of losing that person because they have become such a major part of your identity. This, my beautiful ones, is a dangerous place to be in. Commit to first finding peace and forgiveness within yourself before allowing another to compliment your magic.

Kiss The Reflections Of Your Past
Don’t look at yourself with shame. Don’t be ashamed of your past choices or be embarrassed by the person who has emerged before us today. If you are serious about making positive change, then it’s time to kiss the reflection of your past and be grateful for the nuggets of wisdom you can now pass on to others. Mounting guilt may surface over the multiple friendships you’d let go bankrupt. The mask you wear to cover the depth of your brokenness may leave you abashed. But it’s time to move forward rather than remain stuck in an unhealthy stupor. Remove the mask and be proud of the woman you see in your reflection.

Your self-discovery will reveal so much about why you are, who you are. Journey to your most intimate self and find the courage to live there in that space of complete self-acceptance. You will gain precious pearls related to compassion and mercy once you realize just how much you’ve required it yourself. The more you learn about yourself and your past and begin to apply compassion towards self, the more you will understand how to apply these same concepts of forgiveness unto others. Remain open to change and new possibilities, but don’t be a fool for love. Stand up for yourself, your happiness and what’s right!

Know That Forgiveness Lends To Your Magic
Fast-forward to present day, and I am learning about the need for forgiveness. Iyanla Vanzant said it best, “Everything is just as it needs to be. And if we would forgive, our minds and hearts would open and we could see another possibility.” Forgiveness is just another form of active love. It’s about trusting that you have received what was meant for you through the pain, and then releasing the burden of resentment towards the committer; whether that offender was yourself or another. Once you learn and accept this truth, you free up space within your energy to see new possibilities for your future.

As you learn to have compassion with yourself, you may sense that your heart will begin to soften. Your perspective will shift and your vision will become more clear. Forgiveness is meant for your healing, and the moment you embrace forgiveness, new wisdom will filter into your spirit. This wisdom may then change your action plan or your dealings with another person, but in the end it should ultimately result in your increase. As long as you embrace discernment and apply new insight to your actions accordingly, then your future can only get brighter and the burden of bitterness on your heart can dissolve. Now, I can forgive my husband because I have an understanding of what forgiveness entails. Now, I can forgive my husband because I first learned how to forgive myself.

Your life has a purpose, and all of your experiences contribute to the person that you are today. So have no regrets, only lessons lived. Choose to believe that your life experiences were all purposed to contribute to the brightness of your light and the testimony of love meant for those who happen to catch a glimpse of the fire that burns within. It is my prayer that this year will be my best year yet. That I will create an environment for my true self to thrive. That my heart will be slow to offense and quick to forgive. And that my soul spills over with love that reaches those who were meant to taste of my joy.

I’m curious to know, what has been your greatest triumph of the last year and how has it lifted you towards embodying the greater woman you envision for yourself in the new year?

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