Several experiences and conversations lately have reminded me of just how much good forgiving others can do for our own hearts, and, conversely, how much holding on to anger, hurt, and blame can just drag us down, mire us in bad feelings, and darken our hearts and minds. It harms relationships and our own worldviews.
I won’t elaborate on the situations, but there have been a few instances in my life that have led to some serious anger and heartache on my part. The ways I was treated certainly “justified” my feelings, and they were natural reactions to the things that were said and done to me. And honestly, I didn’t want to forgive and let those hurt feelings go. It’s just so much easier (and oh-so-satisfying) to point a finger at someone else and say (either to someone else or just internally), “Look what that horrid person did!”
But there did come a point I realized I didn’t want to carry around that baggage anymore. It just wasn’t doing me any good, and I didn’t like the visceral reaction I had inside every time I just heard the perpetrator’s name or some other reminder brought them to mind. Not only that, I consider myself a follower of Christ, and holding on to truly ugly feelings against someone else (no matter their crimes against me) certainly didn’t make me Christ-like.
I did find, though, that the lightening of that burden of hurt and anger didn’t just happen overnight. In one case, it’s taken me several years to find that I must have, somehow, really forgiven someone. But that realization did strike me fairly recently, and I was amazed to have confirmed to me that it really had happened. I remember reading this beautiful description of that dissipation in Khaled Hosseini’s fine book The Kite Runner, and I was so happy to find that it had come to my life:
Because I never noticed the night it slipped away, I didn’t realize it had happened. But it had. And that right there is a miracle, no question.