“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
~ Nelson Mandela
“You don’t understand. That person hurt me really bad. That’s why I hate. That’s why I won’t forgive.” If I had a dime, as the old saying goes, for every time I have heard that said by others, I would be incredibly rich and would have retired on my own a long time ago. The diocese would not have to pay out a pension. I would be able to afford my own retirement.
There are so many people who have been wronged, who have been hurt, by others. This has nothing to do with that. I do not mean to minimize their pain and suffering or belittle them in any way. I just acknowledge the fact that so many people will not let go of the hurts that they have suffered.
My question to them is, “Why not?!” Why hang on to pain? Why hang on to suffering? Why hand on to hatred? Do you really think the person who has hurt you cares about your hatred? Do you think the person cares about your suffering? Do you think the person cares about your unwillingness to forgive? For that matter, do you think that person desires forgiveness? The answer to those questions would be “No.”
No, they do not care about your pain. No, they do not care about how they have wronged you. No, they do not care about your hatred. No, they do not care about your unwillingness to forgive nor do they desire your forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not for their sake, it is for your sake. It is only when we can let go of the things that we have kept bottled up inside that we can be free, that we can be healed. Why allow someone to hurt us over and over again by hanging on to hurts and harms? Ultimately, there will come a day when we will all be judged. When God gets a hold of the unloving, uncaring soul, there is going to be a tough discussion.
However, when someone who cannot let go comes face to face with God, He will look at them with love and say, “Why couldn’t you allow me to come into your life?” Because, the truth of the matter is that when we refuse to forgive, when we refuse to let go, we barricade many people from entering our lives and we barricade God as well. There is no hurt that God cannot heal as long as we let Him in to do His work.
We have all suffered from the hands or the words of others. Do not hang on to the hurt. Rather, for our own sake, let go and let God come into our lives to heal us. Extending forgiveness may never change the person we forgive. It will, however, change us by allowing ourselves to be open once again to the love, care, and concern of others.
FAITH ACTION: If there are any past hurts that you ruminate over and hatred to which you cling, ask God for the grace to let them go so that He can begin to heal you.