Why Should I Forgive? (1)

I sit across from hurting people every single day and I have an idea how distressed people are, even the ones that are smiley and all. It always amuses me when I hear someone chatting and laughing with the people in the reception, just for them to break down into slobbering blobs once they step into my office. Today, emotional and psychological pain is more common than an itch in the nose and it would amaze you to know how much pain the person smiling beside you on the commuter bus is going through at the moment. Since emotional pain is not physically apparent, or rather we think it is not physically apparent, we tend to overlook the damaging effect it has on us. We would go and visit someone who was involved in a car accident in the hospital in a flash, but think that the person who just ended an eleven year relationship would be ok. In the soul realm, the person who just lost a relationship is as bruised as the car accident victim.

My main emphasis today is not on the similarities between a physical and a psychological hurt, (although we will deal with that later) but on the fact that even though emotional hurt can heal just as fast or even faster than physical hurt, it also has the ability to last forever. Unfortunately, the latter is mostly our experience because we almost always fall prey to the great hunter of our souls, unforgiveness.

 Unforgiveness, is when someone retains the thoughts of a wrong done to them and refuses to grant amnesty to the person(s) who have offended them. It occurs after someone has done us wrong and we feel justified to bear ill will towards the person(s). There are three factors we need to bear in mind when we talk of forgiveness. They are:

Everyone gets offended: In the course of daily human interactions, people will offend you. Everyone gets offended. From the casual offence of the smelly man on the bus with the dusty feet who keeps stepping on your recently sprayed black suede shoes, to the boss who called you an empty head in the office meeting, to the boyfriend who left you without an explanation after six years, all the way to the uncle who abused you sexually from the time you were five till you ran away from home at fifteen (you get my point I believe). Every day, we get offended. It is important to add that every day we offend people too, knowingly or unknowingly.

Apologies massage the hurt but don’t get rid of the pain: When your best friend whom you trusted with the biggest secret of your life goes to town with the story, you don’t just get offended, you feel back-stabbed. If she comes back on her knees, crying blood and explaining how she was hypnotised by an illusionist and didn't know what she was doing, you may believe her, but it does not stop the hurt you feel and it sure won’t make you confide in her again. 

To forgive is a choice: You always have a reason not to forgive a wrong, because no one enjoys pain or wants to be hurt again, and no one has the right to hurt you. Since to forgive suggests opening yourself up to be hurt again, it is not an easy pill to swallow. To forgive also means to give up the pursuance of justice. Even though you may not be able to do anything to the person that hurt you, the ill will you bear against them always feels like something to hold on to. It's almost comforting.

The problem with not quickly forgiving is that like someone said, “it is comparable to drinking poison and hoping that someone else will die”. Unfortunately, in the game of unforgiveness, you are mostly the only one that  gets hurt. Here are a few reasons why;

You relive the hurt and pain: Since unforgiveness is a thing of the mind, it works quite differently from physical hurt. Every time you think about or remember an offence, you experience it like it was the first time. So instead of your boss calling you an “empty head” in one office meeting, he calls you an “empty head” in a hundred office meetings, ninety nine of which held in your head, but all hundred hurt the same. Likewise, instead of being raped once by that guy, you are raped a hundred times. You may bleed once in your body, but you will bleed a hundred times in your mind.

You develop a bad attitude: Because you carry so much anger and resentment towards the person that hurt you, you begin to lash out at the innocent people around you, and since most times they don’t know what is wrong with you, or why you are so un-nice, they just assume you are a grouch, and no one likes to hang around a grouch. When I'm angry, you see it in the way I drive even if I'm not frowning. So when I see people driving like mad men and think how irresponsible they are, I remind myself that that is how the people who see me when I drive angry must conclude that I'm irresponsible. It does not matter that you are hurting, people will judge you for your behaviour, not the reason behind it. Like my friend would say, hurting people hurt people.

You poison your body. Scientists now agree that holding a grudge causes stress and has a toxic effect on your body. Unforgiveness, which bears the fruits of resentment, anger and sadness amongst others, can cause high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack, and over a long period, even cancer. The toxins released in the body when you bear a grudge are so deadly sometimes you can even taste the bitterness in your mouth(yuck).

You become what you don’t forgive: This is the most destructive effect of unforgiveness as far as I am concerned. It is the result of protracted unforgiveness. There is a mirror effect principle that operates in our psychology. We become exactly like the thing we are focused on. The bible says “as a man thinks in his heart so is he”, William James one of the fathers of psychology says that “the greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude”. My point is that whatever offence you refuse to forgive, by keeping the memory and the feeling of it alive in your mind, over time, it reproduces in your own life the same effect you hate so much. Have you not noticed that abused children tend to become abusive parents, bullied kids become bullies, people that experience traumas like rape or prolonged manhandling tend to grow up cruel.

 The lists goes on and on, but stay with me and in the next post, we will look at steps to take to forgive. 

image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a Nigerian born and based minister, public speaker, entrepreneur and life coach. His keen and unique perspective to life issues makes him a refreshing voice to listen to. He currently serves as the Executive Coordinator of House on the Rock - Word House and sits on the board of a number of companies.

1 comment:

  1. Nice one Kani,when we don't forgive,we give devil room to have access into our life and get us stagnated.