One of my favourite NZ Herald columns I have ever written was this one. My inbox was full to bursting in the week this appeared with people saying “I wish I had read that 15 years ago” – which I think shows just how long we can hold onto stuff when we feel we have been wronged. Some things are so very hard to forgive that they live on in us long after the incident itself has happened.
How long should we hold a grudge? How long can we hold a grudge? A lifetime it seems! If you have a person in your life who has wronged you, and it may be a long long time ago – then just maybe these are the words you need to hear today to set yourself free from it. Because that’s the REALLY IMPORTANT thing about Forgiveness where people get confused – we think it’s something we GIVE the other person – we give them our forgiveness – that’s what feels so hard about it. It feels like we are letting them off a hook they should not be let off, and that they deserve to be on, so we can’t quite bring ourselves to do it. In fact, it’s much more helpful to think of Forgiveness as something we do for OURSELVES. Forgiveness is something that sets US free, not the other way round.
Read the full article here where I explain all: NZ Herald: Forgiveness
As well as my own words of wisdom here are my favourite 5 quotes on forgiveness in case you need some extra motivation to put down that burden you have been carrying:
1. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
2. “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 without forgiveness.”
3. “You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.”
4. “Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is therefore the means for correcting our misperceptions.”
5. “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
Lewis B. Smedes
I particularly like the Maya Angelou perspective – it’s so very real. “I forgive. I’m finished with it”. It’s about being finished with carrying hate or disappointment or betrayal in your own heart. It’s being finished with having that weigh you down, imperceptibly day by day. It’s being finished with feeling like a victim because you have been wronged. It’s being finished with something that is past so that you can build a better tomorrow. It’s about being finished with a corner of your heart being in continual shadow. These are all commitments to self, they are not about letting someone else off the hook. Why? Because ultimately that is not our job. That is their own work to do. It is their work between themselves and their soul, Karma and their conscience. That is not our job. Forgiveness is not about us surrendering – it’s about us accepting what is, and giving ourselves freedom and peace in our hearts. At last.