[To listen to an audio version of this blog please follow this link: http://bit.ly/2q2d1eM]
My GP once said to me, "I get many women in my surgery who want something to make them sleep. They don't need sleeping tablets: they need to forgive the man sleeping next to them for having an affair; sometimes, an affair long ago."
At the time, I nodded and said nothing. It seemed wisest, because I didn't want to get into an argument, but inside, I was seething.
Why should those women have to forgive their husbands? Had those husbands gone down on bended knee and grovelled? Had they bought those wives diamonds, or flowers? Had they taken them to Paris? Had they dedicated themselves totally from that day forward to making their wives happy? In short, did they deserve to be forgiven?
But I didn't understand, then, what my doctor was saying.
Those women were lying awake; their bitterness and resentfulness keeping them from Morpheus' arms; preventing rest. Their husbands, meanwhile, were peacefully asleep. Who, exactly, was suffering?
So, having thought about it, I realised something.
We must forgive for the sake of our own emotional and mental health and not for any other reason. We forgive because we want relationship and love to be re-established more than we want to hold onto our righteous hurt, fury and loss.
Does this mean that our forgiveness wipes out the transgression? Does it mean that it was acceptable for the other person to do what they did?
By no means! Other people injure us for many reasons. Sometimes it is thoughtlessness; sometimes it is by mistake; sometimes they thought they were doing the right thing and it turned out to be so totally the wrong thing, it would have been better had they done nothing at all. And sometimes they hurt us through selfishness, through greed, or just because they can.
And, in the midst of our hurt we cry out, "I shall never forgive them. Never!"
Well, never is a long, long time. It's a wearisome time to carry a heavy lump of bitterness. Some people think that holding onto hurt can increase our chances of falling ill with certain diseases. In fact, we talk about this kind of bitterness, "eating away like a cancer in our chest."
Forgiving someone doesn't make them right. It doesn't mean they didn't hurt you. It doesn't mean that you don't have a right to your upset and anger and grief: you absolutely do.
Forgiving someone has nothing to do with whether they are repentant or not. Sometimes the person who hurt us most is dead. They may have gone to their grave unknowing, or callously indifferent to the harm they did while alive.
We forgive because we want to live. We release the anger and the hurt and the bitterness. We leave it in the past and walk forward because we want the best possible life for ourselves. We wish for peace in our hearts.
And we'd really like to sleep.
A Moodscope member.
Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site: