Let’s talk about forgiveness!
My entire readership suddenly looks baffled and wonders if Marie has lost it. Haven’t we been talking about forgiveness for several days now?
Let’s be more specific, then.
We’ve had a basic overview of forgiveness. We’ve discussed what it is, what it is not (which is just as important) and why it’s so very important to choose forgiveness.
But what happens when you choose to ignore forgiveness? Because make no doubt, it’s your choice.
Some of you are glaring at the screen now, ready to close this post, because you’re thinking I don’t understand. Your pain is so very strong and raw, and the hurt done to you is so incredibly overwhelming, that you just can’t bring yourself to forgive and move on.
If I understood how badly you’ve been hurt, I wouldn’t be so cruel as to suggest you’re choosing to be unforgiving.
Perhaps you were sexually abused as a young child.
You could be the child of an alcoholic who witnessed abuse and toxic relationships throughout childhood.
Your pain could come from rape. Date rape is a vile, under-reported crime that causes lifetime scars. Violent stranger rape creates its own trauma.
It might be that those who were supposed to love and protect you were instead physically and emotionally violent. When you were a child. Or a teenager. Or a new spouse. Or while in the hospital recovering from childbirth.
Maybe you’ve had children torn from your arms. Parental alienation – by the other parent, by the courts, by anyone – could emotionally tear your children away from you, and children have been killed, too.
I get it.
Really and truly, I understand exactly how you’re feeling right now.
There are times and situations in which forgiveness feels absolutely impossible, and no amount of reading or even therapy is going to make it easier.
There are times when, let’s be honest, you just don’t want to forgive. Move on? Baby, that prison of hurt and pain just feels a bit too good right now, because it’s yours and no one can take it away from you, and you’re going to wallow in it for a bit.
It’s okay, sometimes, for a little while, to feel resentful and angry.
Unless you’re spiritually at the point where you can be dying on a Roman cross and calling forgiveness and mercy upon your murderers …. No?
Not there yet?
It’s okay, neither am I.
What’s important, though, is that you start getting yourself into the right state of mind. You don’t want to be stuck in that world of anger, resentment and revenge. It’s not a healthy place to be and it will lead to so very many problems. That’s a place where you can’t have truly healthy relationships with other people, you can’t feel good about the world, and you can’t feel happy and content.
It’s also a place where you can’t connect with God, and I have to tell you, that’s probably the worst place of all. There’s a four letter word to describe what it feels like to lose access to the Presence of God.
Ignoring Forgiveness Keeps You Stuck
When you’re holding onto those feelings of resentment, it’s impossible to move on with your life. You might think you’re managing, but you’re not.
The saddest part of that – the other person has long moved on and most likely barely thinks of you!
True story – I know of a man is constantly plotting ways to ruin his ex-wife’s life.
He loathes her and wastes no chance to tell everyone how she destroyed him. Misunderstandings, the mistakes of youth, fights that escalated for stupid reasons – their marriage had ended for pretty much the standard reasons that young marriages fail. But he can’t let go. He’s on his fourth wife since her, and the anger still bubbles away, wrecking his relationships and her happiness.
Meanwhile, she has remarried (and stayed married) and has happily settled down into a nice community as far away from him as she can. Mention him and she’ll look surprised for a moment and then a little sad. It would have been nice, she’ll tell you, if they could have at least stayed friendly, but it is what it is. The last time he screamed at his family in a grocery store parking lot, she realized they needed to move. She recognizes that she wasn’t the wife he should have been, although not quite to the extent that she says, but then it seems all of her husbands have been “horrible”. At any rate, since she can do nothing to change the past, she has made sure to improve her relationships going forward.
For the record …. I know of four different former couples who all fit into that description, switching the genders a little! It’s sad to see, but it’s so very common.
That person you’re hating on and holding a grudge against, are they even sparing a thought to what happened? In all likelihood, they’ve moved on with life and aren’t feeling worried or bad about it. In fact, it’s quite possible that they’ve completely forgotten whatever it is that you’re nursing in your prison of anger.
And there you are, stuck in that miserable, painful emotional place, holding on to your grudge because it somehow is going to make things right. You see, in the example above, does it matter which spouse was in the wrong, if either of them even were?
Which of them is happier, more content and enjoying life?
Can you see how forgiveness is about you?
Holding On To Anger Keeps Out Happiness
All of that anger makes it hard to make room for positive feelings.
Truthfully, you can’t be happy and angry at the same time, and you’ve spent a long time holding on to that hatred. It crowds out all the good emotions.
When you begin to forgive, and choose to love even those who harm you and spitefully use you, the anger and hurt makes room in your heart for joy and happiness.
If that’s not a great reason to make a serious effort to forgive, I don’t know what is!
It May Even Cause Depression
When you’re stuck in that dark place, you’re retraining your brain to negative, dark emotions. They are always there and, as I said, anger and happiness can’t coexist.
This is a path that leads to depression.
Is it worth it? Is the dubious pleasure you get from nursing that grudge worth risking depression? Even if you are totally in the right and they are totally in the wrong, how does it help you to keep that grudge going?
Yes, there are generally other factors that come into play with depression (and I’ve mentioned before that I suffer from seasonal bouts of depression), but learning how to forgive goes a long way towards easing the darkness.
That feeling of freedom that comes when you truly forgive will go a long way towards helping you feel better. Depression seems to drop you into a deep, dark hole with no sunshine. Forgiveness helps you to let a bit of sunshine in.
Please take this warning seriously.
Ignoring forgiveness will never hurt anyone else more than it hurts you.