“Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from the inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.” ~Mitch Albom
They say that it is best to forgive and forget—not for the person who wronged you, but for your own self. Forgiving is the elixir that can lead to salvation, peace of mind and peace of soul.
I think for the most part, people think of themselves as the type that do forgive and forget. If you ask, most people won’t say they are carrying around hate in their hearts or wishing evil on anyone.
They say that because they believe it. And for lots of us, it’s true.
But in actuality, most people do carry animosity against someone—even if it’s for a brief time or just a mild form of it. It’s human nature. It could be an ex that wronged them, a boss that humiliated them or a friend that used or mistreated them.
Often, it’s not until put to the test, maybe a conversation or confrontation with that person, that one figures out whether or not she has truly forgiven.
About a year and a half ago a friend and I had a falling out. The friendship, which I thought of as solid for years, ended over an email, then a phone call.
I wasn’t the one who wanted the friendship to end. In short, this friend was acting out of character and the things she said were cruel, hurtful and for me, came out of nowhere. At first I tried to salvage the relationship, but then it became clear that I had to move on.
A couple of weeks ago I received a phone message from that same friend.
In it, she said she was calling in peace and wanted my forgiveness. I knew the call took a lot of courage for her. Her voice sounded strained, as though she would cry at any second.
I hung up feeling perplexed. Forgive her?
I already had.
In that moment, I realized I really had forgiven her the instant the falling out happened.
At the time, I knew she had other things going on which could be playing a part in her behavior. I also knew that it would be unhealthy for me to harbor negativity in my life, when I already had a lot of things I was sorting out.
I never held a grudge and I had moved on, away from that friendship yes, but not holding onto to any hate. In my heart I wished her well.
Forgiveness had led me to a path of peace, while she was still struggling with it all this time later. I felt horrible thinking that she was still in so much anguish.
She needed to forgive herself.
So I wrote a holiday card, explaining I wasn’t angry with her and that I never was. I wished her peace and hoped that the card gave the permission she needed to let this go.
As I wrote the card, I realized how liberating it was to know I meant it. I really had no anger in my heart towards her.
It made me wonder, if I had to—could I send cards like this to all the people who had wronged me in this life and feel genuine about it?
A few people came to mind… and the answer was simple. I really think I have forgiven them, even the ones I thought I never could.
I felt such a sense of peace.
So, since this is the season to be jolly and yes, the season of forgiveness, I want all of us to ask ourselves if there is someone we need to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice, one you have control over.
Call if you want, write a letter you’ll never send if it helps, but really the most important thing you can do is forgive in your heart and let the hate go.
I know it’s easier said than done, but try. It might be the best Christmas gift you give… to yourself.
Merry Christmas everyone! Hope the day brings you joy and peace, wherever you are, whatever you are doing.