Have you ever had that kind of anger and bitterness that burns like acid in your stomach? The type that springs up from being so deeply hurt by someone you loved and cared for that you feel as though your heart’s been smashed into a million pieces?
Yes, we’ve all been there, and it hurts like hell when it happens. In fact, this pain may be so bad, that you choose to carry around it hurt like some badge of honour for years afterwards. After all, you’re the one that was hurt. Surely, you’re justified to still feel the sharp stab of its pain for all eternity, right?
Let me ask you a question: would it be better to forgive them?
I can hear the clicks of shocked people running for the hills, mortified that I could even suggest such a thing!
‘It might be okay for you to go around forgiving people like it doesn’t matter, but you obviously weren’t treated as badly as I was. If you had, you wouldn’t even consider such a disgusting idea.’
Thing is, I have. I have been chewed up, spat out and stomped on in the vilest way possible, and I still forgave them. I have had people try to destroy me, rip my family apart, and emotionally abuse me in ways that’ll break your heart; and still I forgave them. I’m not some saint by the way, I just understood a crucial fact: forgiveness is about me, not about them.
See, when you don’t forgive, it’s the equivalent of carrying around a suitcase on your back, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At first, it may be a bit annoying and cumbersome. But, within a fairly short space of time, this baggage really weighs you down. It stops you doing things you really want to do, and it hurts. If you were literally carting a suitcase on your back everywhere you went in this way, common sense would tell you to take the burden off you back. But, emotional baggage is a very different thing, and one that many people form an unhealthy attachment to.
Let me give you an example. Like a lot of children, I suffered bullying at school. I attended an all-girls grammar school, and some of the girls in my year group were really nasty emotional bullies. On and off for four years, I was privy to their cruel teasings, gossiping and downright vile behaviour towards me. I don’t know why they chose me over some of the other girls, but they saw a weakness in me that they revelled in. And, naturally, I didn’t for one second consider that this bullying was a reflection of their issues. No, it had to be my fault. So, I ended up hurt and angry by their malicious behaviour, and angry with myself for somehow making it all happen.
I carried this pain and anger around with me for a long time. I cut short a promising academic future because I couldn’t cope with this baggage day after day. By running away to college, I genuinely believed I was escaping; but I took my baggage with me. I found it hard to trust people, especially other women. I kept waiting for them to turn on me and hurt me in the same way that the school bullies had. This emotional baggage from the past was literally stopping me from having the happy and healthy future I deserved, but I was still too bound to it to realise that I had the power to change things.
Fortunately, things changed. As I matured and underwent my spiritual awakening, I came to understand that it didn’t have to be this way. Forgiving these cruel bullies (and other people who had hurt me along the way), meant that I could free myself once and for all. I saw that this forgiving didn’t mean that I was condoning what had occurred. I wouldn’t do that in a million years, for nothing can really justify the deliberate hurt towards another; and neither should you. When someone hurts you, it’s not okay, but you can still forgive them. You don’t have to see the person or speak to them either. The key thing to understand is this: forgiving is all about you, not them.
Finally, you can put the suitcase down. You can shift from a place of pain to peace, and everyone deserves that. All you have to do is be willing to forgive, and things will happen naturally on their own. Understand that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. We all have the light of love within us, it’s just that some people cover theirs up with layers of fear and darkness. That light is still there; for nothing can diminish it. Once you see this, you let go and come back to love.
Don’t forget the most important person to forgive either: yourself. You are human too and will make mistakes, but you did the best you could at the time. Forgiving others may seem easy in comparison to forgiving yourself, but you don’t want to be carrying around anger and bitterness towards yourself. You deserve your love and compassion too. Allow yourself to the freedom of forgiveness, and feel your heart expand with love.