I originally wrote this blog post following Nelson Mandela’s death in December 2013 and I needed a refresher on the subject of forgiveness and resentment. This post deals with forgiveness in love relationships, but it really speaks to all situations that is calling for forgiveness and letting go of resentment. My 2015 self made some edits to my 2013 post :-).
“As I walked out the door toward my freedom I knew that if I did not leave all the anger, hatred and bitterness behind, that I would still be in prison.”
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
Nelson Mandela passed away today, at the age of 95. Nelson Mandela’s life – long, fruitful, inspirational, fraught with pain and struggle, triumph and victory – is something we all should aspire to be. I thank him for all the teaching moments his life brought to my life and his spirit and legacy lives on forever.
Below is a question posed to me on the subject of forgiveness and my response:
Q. Can you share your thoughts about forgiveness? I’ve always heard how people chose to forgive someone who hurt them deeply in one way or another in order to help them move on. What does that mean and how do you accomplish it?
Letting go. Time truly heals many wounds but in the meantime, how can one work on letting go of a situation? Is it best to force yourself to not think about it, i.e. whenever the thought crosses your mind, change the subject so to speak? Or do you try to keep busy and occupy yourself so as to distract you?
How does one remain hopeful of love and marriage? Is there really truly somebody for everybody?
A. Forgiveness. Such a heavy proposition, isn’t it? Why should we have to forgive those who trespass us?
It’s just as much about you as it is the person whose being forgiven, if not more about you. Not forgiving holds us back, dims and dulls our life’s experiences, and drags us down.
Nelson Mandela’s first quote above is not talking about the brick and mortar prison he sat in for 27 years for anti-Apartheid activities. He’s talking about the prison of our minds – the bondage of holding in resentment. His quote can help us better understand the notion of forgiveness in relationships and how it is necessary for moving on to bigger and better love. If we cannot let go of the pain, bitterness, anger, and resentment, then we will never fully move into the present of the here and now. The here and now is freedom to love.
Resentment comes from a misunderstanding many of us have about a situation or person. We believe they have wronged us and we come to hate a person. Remember that you called this person into your life, or at the very least allowed that person to enter your sphere. Think about the reasons why they were in your life. Acknowledge and appreciate their good qualities you loved about them. And, thank God for showing you the qualities in them that you could very much live without. It is especially the parts of a person that hurt you that has the most to offer you – the relationship is gone and over, but you now learned a little more about yourself in terms of what you want and don’t want in a relationship.
Nelson Mandela had several loves in his life, including three wives. Each of those wives, he loved deeply and considered them partners and soul mates. Two of the three marriages ended in divorce. Winnie Mandela allegedly cheated on Mr. Mandela and was emotionally neglectful to him– yet, he found love again at the age of 77, and died a happily married man at the age of 95. I read that in divorce court, Nelson Mandela smiled at his soon to be former wife, Winnie, but she turned away. He was sorrowful and humbled during the divorce proceedings and he spoke of his love and appreciation for his wife. He knew there was no hope for their relationship, but he chose to not be mired in pain and resentment towards his ex-wife.
Mr. Mandela’s story tells us that soul mates can come in many different forms and times in our lives. There are some loves in your life greater than others because of the chemistry or attachment you have to a person. As many times as you believe your soul mate is out there, is as many times your soul mate is forming and finding their way to you. Many people have great loves in their lives, not just one.
Allow yourself a little time to mourn the demise of a relationship, but write a reminder somewhere you can refer to that says when you’re ready and open, love is available to you. Dwelling in sadness only delays the recovery and the rediscovery of yourself in this life and of future loves to come. Don’t let unforgiveness of the person you once was in a relationship with slow down your momentum to a loving state of being with yourself, someone new, and old connections.
If you’ve ever tried to not think about something, then you likely know that it is almost impossible not to think about that very thing you’re trying to avoid thinking about. Deal with the feelings early and head on. Wallow, watch bad romantic comedies, cry, talk it out with friends and write in a journal. When you spend a little time mourning, remember there is a season for sadness and there is a season for moving. Take a trip, pick up a new hobby, or set up a regular volunteer activity to help move you into your new season of life and love. Don’t ignore your feelings, but don’t let them rule you or your life. Give yourself a break and have fun! Dating and making new friends is an adventure – the hunt for the love(s) of your life should be a good time, with a little contrast here and there. Isn’t that why we signed up for this thing called love and life anyway?
Finally, BE forgiveness. One of the qualities we want in our mates is the ability to forgive and humility. If those are qualities you want in others, make sure it’s something you have inside yourself as well. As a matter of fact, any trait you’d like to see in your partner, bring that energy into your own being right here, right now. BE the forgiveness. Appreciate – even if all you can think of is the negative in a person or situation. The negativity or adversity is only clarifying what it is you really want in your life, so have compassion for yourself and that person. Bless yourself and the other person by praying for you and them to be love and peace.
In relationships, there will be transgressions, arguments, and disagreements. A person who can quickly regroup and forgive is one that will succeed in life and love.
The cycle of forgiveness is necessary to keep mankind in love and in check. The moment you truly forgive, is the moment you are free from the prison of resentment. Forgiveness sets us all free, both the forgiven and the forgiving. The moment each of us wholeheartedly takes part in this beautiful cycle, the moment love blooms and dwells freely inside all of us.
~Your Curator of All Things Inspirational, Kimberly Jo Cooley