Maybe, in order to keep it manageable and make it seem even more significant by its brevity, we can have a Forgiveness Hour, or even a Forgiveness Minute. Knowing it is coming (I’d be happy to remind people who can then remind other people, and so on), people can collect their thoughts in that direction and start listing the people in their life against whom they may have some grudge or towards whom they carry some ill will.
It was brought to my attention this past week that there are some people unknowingly carrying around the heavy burden of ill will towards others from even twenty or more years ago and they might not ever know it until or unless it comes to light in some ordinary or unexpected way!
I was having a conversation with this very intelligent and articulate woman the other day, and when the subject somehow got around to Christmas gifts, all the old feelings she’s been carrying around all these years — regarding the fact that her particular gifts to someone in her family were not only not liked, but actually rejected — came to the forefront of her mind and her emotions. She could hardly tell me about how horrible it made her feel to be so rejected — since the rejecting of her gifts seemed to be the rejecting of her, as well. She to this day believes that person hated her (or strongly disliked her then and probably still does), and used that as her way of showing it.
She spoke to me about it with extreme emotion, and realized that all the old original bad feelings she felt then — about 28 years ago — were still weighing heavily on her shoulders and mind in the present day.
After we spoke, I just knew that she was not the only person who didn’t even know they had that old, ugly, useless, and extremely heavy burden strapped tightly to their back, pulling on their shoulders, and making it impossible to feel the lightness and freedom that comes with letting it all go and replacing it with the genuine feelings of brotherly — if not familial — love!
Forgiveness is a funny thing: when we give it to another, we are actually giving it to ourselves. Unlike actual tangible gifts — with or without the wrapping paper — forgiveness cannot be given back or refused because it is not in that realm; it is in the realm of love, and no one can stop our love from “breaking through” any amount of rejection, since it is rejection-proof. Forgiveness is in a world of its own, and is under our own control (so to speak), since if we choose to forgive, that heavy burden is taken right off our own heart.
We’ve heard that love has to be a two-way street, and so it is assumed, I assume, that people think anything originating with one person (love or forgiveness) has to be accepted by the other person for it to have validity, meaning, or life. Based on that premise, if someone loves you and you don’t love them back, apparently there is no love going on. And, accordingly, if you forgive someone for something they did and they reject your forgiveness, there can then be no forgiveness taking place.
No “love” is ever wasted, whether accepted and reciprocated or not, because the act of loving is good for the lover. In that same way, forgiveness is never wasted, even if rejected, since the act of forgiving enriches the forgiver, and lightens the heart as it removes the burden of carrying around that ill will toward another.
How many times have any of us been having a conversation with someone when all of a sudden a name from the past pops up, or a situation comes back to mind (as happened with that woman mentioned above) and all the unhappy, bitter, or even hateful feelings attached to that person or situation come flooding right back along with that memory?
If that’s ever happened, the one feeling those feelings needs to apply some healing forgiveness to the open wound. That is really the only balm that one needs to soothe the rawness of such resurrected pain.
Usually someone will say something like, “But you don’t know what so-and-so did! how it not only hurt me, but ruined my
Having been hurt at the time is enough. It’s over. Let it go. Cut the chains of attachment to it and free yourself from that burden, remembering that you are forgiving because it’s a good thing to do for yourself; and maybe…just maybe…it can be an impetus for the so-called offender to start down a better path — but you needn’t put any stock in that. That is up to the one so forgiven. It is actually not your concern or “job” to see that there are any changes made on his or her side of the fence. You simply forgive and move on to loving that person as we are advised to love all our neighbors, as our self.
In short, check yourself out: are there any persons toward which you hold hateful, revengeful feelings? Is there anyone that the mere thought of brings tightness to the chest, heaviness to the heart, or malice to the mind? Consider loving yourself more and freeing yourself from such thoughts and feelings by forgiveness. Besides being a balm for your spirit and soul, it will confuse the heck out of your “enemy” or adversary. And heaven only knows how it will be the very antidote for a whole mess of problems in your life.
* * * * *
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at email@example.com.