‘I forgive not because I became a saint, but because I’m tired of hating’ – Paulo Coelho
Many people believe that to forgive is somehow associated with saying that it is all right, that we accept the evil deed. But this is not forgiveness.
When someone that you once trusted — and shared your heart with — betrays you, it feels like someone stomped on your soul. And they probably did. Betrayal, and how we react to it, seems to be a necessary step on the spiritual journey, just as it was for Jesus. But those who have betrayed us are among the very hardest people for us to forgive. This pain is so deep because it somehow breaks our very contract with life. We assume friendship, love, confidences, intimacies can be trusted, but if life appears to be untrustworthy on that dear level, we naturally think; Who can I ever trust again? Why should I trust again? And many people don’t! Which is the normal beginning of their downward path.
This is where forgiveness needs to come in.
Forgiveness is a decision. Making that decision doesn’t override the emotional residue that often takes much longer to release. That feeling of wanting revenge or wanting to assert your rightness or your victimhood — depending on the depth of your wounding — can take days, weeks, months and even years to dissipate. On certain days, when you’re in a down mood, your psyche will want to grab onto that hurt. You have to go through that necessary period of feeling half dead, half angry, half in denial — this is the space in which we grow for some reason. The process of growth is infinite. Some of our lessons in life are to learn compassion, self-love, and unconditional love for others. We are still operating at the bottom realms of our growth when we are carrying around feelings of hate and bitterness and thoughts of revenge.
I live by Maya Angelou’s quote that for most of us, “when we know better, we do better.” I truly believe that people don’t go around intentionally trying to hurt others, especially those closest to them. More often than not, they are normally in pain themselves, making choices and decisions based on their own wounds.
I spent the first two years of my relationship with babi working hard to forgive my ex, someone I trusted who hurt me. It wasn’t easy and it’s taken a huge amount of time looking within, acknowledging my own mistakes in life, and seeing all the reasons it’s imperative I forgive others for their wrongs. I found that the more I clung onto the hurt, the greater it affected my relationship with babi, which I what I did not want. I wanted the cycle to stop. Of course I wanted to see my ex hurt too. That’s natural. As much as we want to see the person who hurt us as an evil person — as if they were a major exception to the rule, since we have falsely imagined a perfect world — we need to realise that we’re all an exception to the rule of perfection and expectation. Humans are inherently imperfect. That is what differentiates us from God. Surely people have hurt you and you wish you could punish them, but whether you recognise it or not, you yourself were forgiven when you also were broken and mistaken.
Not everyone and every situation is meant to be a part of our lives forever. Sometimes, they are there for a period of time to teach us something, and once their purpose is served they move on and the next chapter of our story begins.
When you understand your own limited but lovely place within this universally imperfect world, you will find it almost natural to become more patient and forgiving with other people too. Also if we can find a way to live inside of a deep gratitude for our own undeserved grace and mercy, past hurts have very little power to cause us pain in any lasting way. They are not worth our time or energy. They are mere sludge and dredge in the great school and journey of life. The refusal to make them our identity is almost the heart of the matter. If you do not forgive, you will with 100 percent certainty transmit your pain to others.
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Be happy. x