The wounds we bear can run deep, injuring us again and again if we allow them to. In order to move forward with our lives, we must learn to let those wounds be cleansed with forgiveness. This is not an act to release those who hurt us from justice. We still bear the scars as remembrance. What is important about forgiving is letting the wound done to you close. Only then can the pain stop.
It can be impossible to forgive if we still bear resentment toward the people or institutions who hurt us. Even harder if they hurt us even now. We must remind ourselves that if we sink to pettiness, and cruelty, the same as those who perpetrate petty cruelty against us, we continue the cycle. We only create more pettiness and cruelty in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi once gave a gift of handmade sandals to General Smuts, the man often responsible for persecuting and imprisoning Gandhi. He did this because ‘it is better to make friends than enemies.’ While none of us can live up to Gandhi’s example – he was also deeply flawed – it’s the point of living to make friends for ourselves.
If we spend time and energy on resentment and bitterness, we become bitter and resentful people. None of us truly enjoy the energy drain that comes from perpetual negativity. We can’t help that the shrapnel of life tears us. Rends us. We can only forgive the foolishness of the bombs, and those that throw them.
It’s a challenge each time to forgive. Start off small, with things easily forgiven. Practice in letting these things go, and you’ll soon be able to forgive ever larger slights. Remember: This is not to forget. This is not to stop a crusade against wrongdoing. This is healing yourself so you are ready for the next battle. So you do not become a source of pain and bitterness.
You’re worth too much to be lost to the pain others have caused to you. Seek those who hurt you less, and let the injuries of the past help you learn how to tread carefully; but never to stop moving forward. With your scars come wisdom, but that wisdom can turn to poison inside you if you do not learn to forgive the past. Otherwise you’ll always be bent by revenge. Even if only a little.
If you feel overwhelmed with pain, you aren’t alone. There are people ready to help you. You don’t need money, or religion. These websites can help anyone suffering:
7 Cups – Free and anonymous chat with trained professionals, peers, volunteers, and people just like you.
Mental Health.gov – If you’re struggling with mental health issues, here’s free resources provided by the government to help you get through these bleak times.