Archive for January, 2018
Sometimes when we are caught up in grief and anger, it seems like this is all there will ever be now in our life. Permanent tears. Permanent anger.
Today it may seem like these will never end…..but they will.
Take a lesson from your own past. The pains were temporary.
They are temporary even now.
Forgiveness helps them to be temporary.
I read your book, Forgiveness Is a Choice, and it became a revelation to me just how angry I have been toward my mother when I was growing up. Is this common, to be angry, to be aware of the anger, but not have a clue about the depth of that anger?
Yes, it is common because of the psychological defense mechanisms of denial, suppression, and repression. These defenses are not problematic if they keep unpleasant issues from us when we are not ready for the full brunt of those issues. The defenses can get in the way of emotional healing when they prevent us from seeing the truth: I have been treated unfairly and I am angry about this. So, in the short run, the psychological defenses can protect us from being overwhelmed. In the long-run, slowly becoming aware of the depth of anger is a first step to healing from the effects of serious injustices.
Think about the love that one person has given to you some time in your life. That love is eternal. Love never dies.
If your mother gave you love 20 years ago, that love is still here and you can appropriate it, experience it, feel it. If you think about it, the love that your deceased family members gave to you years ago is still right here with you. Even though they passed on in a physical sense, they have left something of the eternal with you, to draw upon whenever you wish.
Now think about the love you have given to others. That love is eternal. Your love never dies. Your actions have consequences for love that will be on this earth long after you are gone. If you hug a child today, that love, expressed in that hug, can be with that child 50 years from now. Something of you remains here on earth, something good.
Children should be prepared for this kind of thinking through forgiveness education, where they learn that all people have built-in or inherent worth. One expression of forgiveness, one of its highest expressions, is to love those who have not loved us. If we educate children in this way, then they may take the idea more seriously that the love given and received can continue……and continue. It may help them to take more seriously such giving and receiving of love.
We need forgiveness education……now.
I sometimes hear that a lack of forgiveness can have physical ramifications. What is the most common health issue that you see in people who have been treated very unjustly and yet will not forgive?
The most common health issue that I see is fatigue. It takes a lot of energy to keep resentment in the heart and to keep fueling that resentment by replaying in the mind what happened. Forgiving can reduce the resentment, reduce the rumination, and increase energy.
My husband is hesitant to forgive because he says he does not want to act as if the problem (with his brother) never happened. Do you have some advice for me?
It may help if your husband realizes that forgiveness and justice exist together. One can and should seek justice, and in my view, the quest for justice works well once a person already has forgiven. At the same time, once people forgive, they do not want to keep bringing up what happened. There is a tendency toward moving on. Thus, your husband, if he forgives, will not want to keep bringing up the injustice and, in all likelihood, he will want to leave it in the past.