When I think about all the times I have wasted in my life being angry at others, it saddens me greatly. Talk about squandering precious resources! The joy, time and energy I have thrown away over hanging on to the injustice and inequities that have caused me injury are, in the end, just self-inflicted pain.
Yes, I’ve been hurt and there have been people and situations in my life that have caused me deep emotional wounds, financial loss and caused me undue embarrassment. I have had confidences broken and falsehoods spoken that didn’t just hurt me, but brought great pain and sadness to people I love and care about more than anything. The hours lost to trying to understand and make sense of the hurt, deal with the anger and wrestle with the emotional wreckage is overwhelming to calculate.
I’d be lying to say I haven’t fantasized about the ways in which I could exact revenge on my enemies. As unchristian as it is, I’ve imagined mental scenarios where the hurt and loss I’ve felt by their actions could somehow be repaid. Not – I honestly believe – with the intention of implementing the cruelty I’ve felt, but in some sort of therapeutic release of trying to understand the mental reasoning and justification that must have gone into the hurt hurled my way. While such mental role-playing doesn’t solve the riddle of “why,” it can open the door to forgiveness.
I’m learning that hanging on to the hurt is unhealthy. It brings prolonged emotional, mental and even physical stress. Forgiveness is a conscious decision. It doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t bring with it the promise of restoring old relationships or allowing trust to instantly be restored. But forgiveness can open the door to happiness. Making the choice to let go of the past – freeing those who hurt me, disappointed me and betrayed my friendship – is a gift I can give myself.
The longer I hold onto my
anger and unforgiveness,
the longer I let them
continue to hurt me.
Forgiveness comes to us all when we can let go of the grudges, the anger and the bitterness that clutches our hearts. When we consciously decide that our future happiness is more important than the resentments and hurts of the past; when enabling joy instead of exacting justice becomes our priority, happiness flows in. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we are denying the other person’s responsibility for hurting us, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. Forgiveness can be given without excusing the acts that caused the hurt. Forgiveness brings the peace and happiness that helps us all go on with our life.
Forgiveness does not mean that we suppress anger;
forgiveness means that we have asked for a miracle:
the ability to see through mistakes
that someone has made to the truth
that lies in all of our hearts.
Forgiveness is not always easy.
At times, it feels more painful
than the wound we suffered,
to forgive the one that inflicted it.
And yet, there is no peace
Attack thoughts towards others
are attack thoughts towards ourselves.
The first step in forgiveness
is the willingness to forgive.
Realizing the life we are destined far requires us to shed the cloaks of anger, be willing to forgive ourselves and others for the mistakes and wrongs that have brought pain and hurt and to seek forgiveness from others. Hard, but courageous steps in the journey toward an outrageously wonderful life.