Forgiveness is Such Sweet Sorrow


  • Author Hu Dalconzo
  • Published October 11, 2011
  • Word count 695

Hurt comes in many forms. Some instances come at us like an arrow from the bow; we see it coming but cannot avoid the hit fast enough. Other forms of hurtfulness build up little by little. Each day another slight, another insult, another rejection. Sometimes we don't even know we are collecting hurt feelings until we begin to unravel and our behaviour changes in varied ways. Perhaps we become depressed, angry, oversensitive or even abusive to those around us. Sometimes we are so deeply entrenched in ourselves that forgiveness seems like the silliest solution to our problems. But in the end we learn forgiveness is the sweet sorrow of release. The comfortable burdens of anger are sometimes with us for so long we find their company comfortable and familiar. When we finally let them go, the relief is profoundly satisfying yet slightly frightening.

In concrete terms, forgiveness is the decision to let go of feelings of resentment towards the person(s) who inflicted the pain. Thoughts of revenge are allowed to fade away. To be clear, forgiveness does not mean relieving the other person's responsibility in their actions against you. It doesn't mean their act was any less important or hurtful. Forgiveness is simply moving on to peace and positive thinking. It is possible to forgive without excusing the act. What is the difference? Excusing a wrongful act means you allow the act, and are even ok with it happening again. Forgiveness is letting the anger go.

Sometimes in that moment of forgiveness there is a deep feeling of release. Particularly if we have held on to the rage and resentment for a long period of time, the instance of forgiveness can seem like an overwhelming relief. Our body will feel less stress, lowered blood pressure, less anxious, have more energy and reduced anger. Through letting go of those burdens we will find it easier to accept spiritual guidance. Depression and sadness will begin to fade as well.

So why is it so easy to get angry and stay angry? Why do we hold grudges? Reaction to a hurtful event is natural. In fact not reacting is unnatural and shows signs of repressed feelings. The difference between a reaction and holding a grudge is in the allowance of negative feelings to overtake the positive feelings. If you are always negative, the people around you will feel bad and angry. Then a vicious cycle has begun. There is an old Buddhist proverb about anger: "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."

To decide to forgive is to decide to commit to a process of change. To forgive a wrong is to move away from living life as a victim and take back control of your life. By not letting the anger to continue controlling your thoughts, feelings, and actions, you are redefining your life. A new perspective will be gained, one that includes empathy, understanding, patience and love. Do not dwell on the time spent in the anger, focus on the life ahead.

Poet Robert Browning, husband to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, said "Good, to forgive; Best to forget." Sometimes, in this modern day of progressive thinking, we assume forgive and forget go hand in hand. One must forget to forgive and vice versa. The power of forgiveness is in letting the anger go, bringing peace and happiness to your life. No one can instantly forget an event that was hurtful, and nor should they. That instance of pain and all the repercussions of it are learning experiences. As forgiveness evolves, the moment in question will fade away but it will not be forgotten. Anger will dissolve, resentment will wane and healing will progress.

To forgive a person for their wrongs does not mean they are obligated, or even able to change their hurtful ways. One hopes change will come, but the purpose of forgiveness is wholly for oneself. We cannot change another person, just as we could not decide to forgive until we were ready. Extend the olive branch, but do not expect it to be taken.

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