LBarryPicThis past Thursday I went to a lecture put on by my university with guest speaker Immaculee Ilibagizia. Immaculee was a college student when the Rwandan genocide started in her home country. She sought out shelter by hiding in a 4×3 bathroom, of a Hutu pastor in her village, with seven other women. During the three months that she hid, she did not know where her family was but heard of the mass killings that had over taken her country. Immaculee’s entire family, many friends, and classmates were killed during the genocide. Afterward, she got a position working for the UN and found herself about to move to America. Before moving, she was able to meet a man in jail who had killed her brother and mother. She had the strength to forgive him. Her forgiveness inspired many in the Rwandan community so that healing could begin. Immaculee is now a New York Times bestselling author, motivational speaker, and peace advocate.

Listening to Immaculee speak of forgiveness, I thought a lot about how young women have their own battles. We may not have experiences like surviving genocide, but we have experiences that still cut us to our core. Being bullied by a group of girls or being called fat have a lasting impact on who we are. The anger and rejection that we feel can change how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. Immaculee described how those who do bad things don’t realize the impact that they will have on others. Some people choose to do wrong to make themselves feel better or get ahead in life.

11166006_908974805835849_44056738_nAs young women we need to realize how powerful forgiveness can be. The anger that we hold onto will eat away at us. It’s okay to be mad that something happened, it isn’t fair that girls bully you online or talk about you behind your back. It isn’t okay that the girl you thought was your best friend betrays you. Letting yourself forgive will lift anger out of you and you will be able to live your life more fully. Your self-care is very important and you need to be able to forgive.  Forgiving others is not only a means to make amends with them, but it’s a way to move on. It’s a way for you to say, “yes, this happened to me, but I will not let it define who I am.”

The power to forgive will allow us to be the people that we are called to be. Our forgiveness can inspire others around us, the way that Immaculee inspired thousands of people.

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