(30 Days of Truth – Day 3 – Something with which you struggle)
Whenever I’m wronged, be it real or imaginary, intentional or by accident, I struggle letting that go. I struggle with forgiveness. I’ve held onto grudges for months, for years, even for decades. I blame my mother for passing this little character flaw on to me. When it comes to forgiveness, I’m completely paralyzed. I’m incapable of moving on from some hurts. Don’t get me wrong, this is not always the case. Sometimes it’s easy to shrug it off and forget. I can forgive, I am capable of it. There are just some times when I can’t and I don’t know why that is. Hell, I’m still mad at my best friend from elementary school who ditched me for the cool kids when we transferred to a new middle school. See….it’s bad. It’s very bad.
We can all be hurt but so many different people and in so many different ways. What do you do when it’s your family who hurt you? How do you let go when you know it’s not intentional but the same behavior happens again and again? It’s your family. You should forgive and move on right? What if you can’t? What if every time you think about this situation the pain you feel manifests and completely blinds you to what you know you should do.
What do you do when it’s a friend? Not a best friend, but someone you care about, admire and have a genuine affection for? What if one day, they don’t like you anymore? What if one day, they turn hostile, accuse you of things you haven’t done? Do you talk to them and ask what happened? That seems like the logical thing to do right? Not for me. This is where I’m broken. I hate confrontation. Nothing frightens me more. Nothing. I would rather hold on to the hurt and anger and let it fester. I would rather lose that person altogether than ask them what happened. What if I ask and they tell me it’s me, that I was the one who did something hurtful to them and this is why they hurt me in return. Maybe my actions simply triggered a fight or flight response in them. If I never ask, I’ll never have to deal with that possible truth. So I don’t ask.
What if someone you care about doesn’t necessarily do a hurtful thing to you but simply disappoints you with their actions. What if you suddenly discover they are not who you thought they were? What if you had ideals about this person and they simply failed to live up to those ideals. This happened to me recently. I’ve struggled letting this go. This friend did not do anything malicious or deceitful or mean. They just didn’t live up to the expectations I had for them. This made me so angry. So hurt. I can’t even explain why this devastated me the way it did. I spent days crying over this. I’ve tried so hard not to be mad, to not be angry, but I just can’t let it go. My solution was to just cut them out of my life. I have so many people around me that constantly surpass their own potential so why would I continue this friendship.
During the past week, I came face to face with two of these people. Let’s call them Thelma and Louise. I had once had a solid friendship with Thelma and with Louise, a budding new friendship that truly excited me. Both of those relationships came to sudden and abrupt ends. With both reunions, there was a moment of awkwardness and then with Louise, a feeling of forgiveness. With Thelma, I immediately knew that although we were cordial and friendly to each other, we would never again be friends. I’m ok with that. I still don’t know what caused our little breakup to begin with, and I’m not even sure what forgiveness needs to be granted but I do know I need to let it go. I will continue to struggle with this one.
As for Louise, I realized that I need to say “I forgive you”, if only in a whisper to myself. Louise has no idea that I’ve been angry. How could she, I’ve never said a word. I did have a recent conversation with another friend and she doled out some advice that I didn’t want to hear. I did not want to hear it one bit. I told her that I was ready to tell Louise how I felt. She asked me why? My immediate response was so that I would feel better, so that I could let go of the anger and move on. I told her that Louise needed to know so that she could recognize the bad behavior and possibly correct it going forward. Maybe Louise didn’t even know she did anything wrong. Maybe by telling her, I could change her life for the better. My friend said to me that if I told Louise that she had hurt me, it would do nothing but cause her pain in return. (Humph. What does she know anyway?)
Now fast forward one day. Yes, ONE day. I’m watching the movie The Family That Prays and thinking that Tyler Perry is a GD genius. I’m loving the story and then the line he wrote for me – yes, he wrote this entirely for me to hear – presented in a scene.
“You can’t make yourself happy by bringing misery to other people.”
Well now. Dear God, I hear you loud and clear. You sent one person to warn me not to confront Louise, but when you had Tyler Perry deliver the message, I knew this was serious. I almost immediately began to let go just a little. I haven’t entirely forgotten the hurt but I’m certainly letting it go. I’m learning how to forgive from within myself. I’m learning that I don’t have to hurt others to make my pain go away.
I know that asking God to help me let go and help me forgive is the answer. I know that when He feels that I’m ready, He will lift those burdens from me. However, I also know that God gives us freewill and I often feel that the devil is trying to gain control of my will. I feel that he is poking me and agitating me and keeping me riled up with anger and hostility. I’m tired of feeling like I’m being eaten from the inside out. Nothing good can ever come from holding onto this hatred, hurt and pain. I’m embarrassed that I struggle with this and I don’t share it with many people so let’s just keep it between us. OK?
Now I’m going to ask you for help. How do you let go? Please take a moment to offer me some advice. Tell me a personal story. I want to know if you, too, struggle with forgiveness or letting go. Leave me a comment, shoot me an email or message me on FB or Twitter. Do you have a favorite quote? Do you recite a specific mantra when you feel wronged? What exercises do you do to help you let go? Sometimes knowing that you are not alone can be a huge help so I would like to hear your story. How do you know when you’ve forgiven?