Forgiving heals

If we are honest with ourselves, we still remember that little incident that happened years ago when someone wronged us, a friend or neighbor or colleague at work. Our life goes on, but every once in a while, in a quiet moment, that unpleasant incident returns to our mind. It might have been a trivial act, a mere moment in the in the vast panorama of our life’s experiences. But it left us feeling hurt. Many years have passed since. Why can’t we let it go?

In my own life, I can recall two such incidents. One was like that — trivial. The other was more significant because its consequences actually cost me my job. One might argue that if ever holding a a grudge is justified, that experience qualifies. Yet, we know better. Some have said that holding a grudge is akin to drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. It’s foolish and punishing to the grudge-holder.

My faith teaches the importance of forgiveness. I believe in it. I do. Not forgiving a past wrong rewards the perpetrator and punishes the non-forgiving victim of the wrong. All of the world’s faiths encourage forgiveness. It heals us. It is the right thing to do. Why is it so hard?

I suspect that we take comfort in feeling wronged. Someone else caused us pain, is responsible for it and by extension, is responsible for the way we continue to feel about it, even years later. But by holding on to that pain we continue to punish ourselves.

The time has come to let go, for me. I have decided to follow the advice of several thinkers, including Confucius, who said, “To be wronged is nothing, unless you remember it.” And Bree Despain, who wrote in “The Dark Divine,” “We don’t forgive people because they deserve it. We forgive them because they need it — because we need it.”  Yes, we do.

 

One thought on “Forgiving heals

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I fear I’ve done the same, holding less than generous thoughts and feelings about people LONG after the event or even the aftermath has passed. It is hard to be a better person.

    Like

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