Surely we've all heard that old cliche' about wisdom coming with age. I'd never claim to be wise but life's certainly provided me with numerous opportunities to learn.
Some lessons were easily learned, others I've struggled with. Forgiveness is one of those I've had to work on for years.
I want to be clear though, I'm talking about those more ordinary types of situations we all go through. I can certainly think of awful experiences some people have endured in life that I haven't. I don't know how I'd handle that so I'd never try to tell anyone what they should do. Some offenses may truly be unforgivable. I'm only relating the lesson as I know it.
When I was younger I thought to forgive was to absolve the other person who had wronged me of any responsibility. As if my own feelings, my own pain didn't matter. I admit, I was one to hold grudges. Over time, I did become bitter about certain things and some people in my life.
The truth is by holding onto your pain so tightly, you hurt yourself far more than you could ever hurt the person you won't forgive. The key word is "won't". You can choose to forgive.
In Al-Anon I learned the phrase, "Let go and let God". That was not an easy concept for me to grasp. Perhaps because I didn't want to let go of anything. I was quite the control freak. As you go through life you learn lots of other lessons along the way. If you pay attention, you begin to see what's really important. Time slips away more quickly, you experience the loss of loved ones, you may find yourself walking an unexpected path. Then I finally understood what it meant ... "Let go and let God.
Holding onto pain, grudges, anger ... I have no room for it in my life. It was keeping me from filling my life with peace, hope, compassion and happiness. I've heard depression described as anger turned inward. I do believe that to be so true. Holding onto anger can bring about nothing good. People screw up, we all make mistakes, we all get hurt. I try to treat people the same way I want them to act towards me. If I don't forgive, how can I expect forgiveness?
Little things, often nothing more than misunderstandings, those are easy to forgive & forget. The bigger ones, well those take more work and more time. Definitely have to employ the ... let go and leg God philosophy for those.
I don't want to give anyone the impression I've mastered the art of forgiveness. Or that I'm perfect in any way. Still haven't completely gotten my quick temper in check or my emotions under control at all times. Anyone who knows me well knows the truth about that .... lol. I still struggle with depression sometimes. What I have learned is I'd rather fill my soul with joy rather than anger. It's impossible to enjoy life being cold and bitter so I won't live that way. Letting it go is one of the best life lessons I've ever learned.