There is nothing more damaging to our soul than an anger and bitterness that is carried with a vengeance for years. That isn’t to say people don’t have the right to be angry about what has happened to them. They do. The important thing is for a person to find a way that is both appropriate and safe to express their anger. Anger is a normal grief response. Carrying it into to the future for years and years is not.
Often what goes hand in hand with anger is forgiveness. This trips people up. They don’t want to forgive someone for what they did because it feels as though it’s giving them a free pass for what they did. This is important: Forgiveness Is NOT About Letting Someone off the Hook!
“Father, forgive me for I have sinned…” This came out of my mouth every Saturday at confession. The religious teachings to seek forgiveness DID NOT teach me anything about forgiveness ~ what it really is and why it was so important.I just knew (because the teachings told me) that I was born a sinner and would always be a sinner. Thankfully, I have recovered from that tainted teaching!
So what is forgiveness? Forgiveness is about loving yourself to let go of the pain and the hurt inflicted on you by another. Forgiving them does not in any way, let them off the hook for their actions. They are still accountable for the harm they did and you have the right to not allow the experience back in to your life again. Forgiveness is about releasing the inner turmoil so that you can move forward with your life, in a rich and meaningful way. This may or may not include the other person.
If you choose to not forgive ~ and yes, it is a choice ~ it is you who ultimately pays the price. To hold on to the anger and resentment secures your path in a deep sludge that I guarantee will spill over into your relationships and future experiences. On the other hand, if you choose to forgive, the benefit to yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually is immeasurable.
This is the last day of the year… a perfect time to let go of that which does not serve you… forgive, let go, and move forward.