Whether to forgive and forget is a tough question when we feel we are the wronged ones. Shouldn’t the other person come to us and apologize? Yes, that would be nice, if they were the one in the wrong, but you could die waiting!
But many who are in the wrong, feel entitled and so will never humble themselves to say, ‘I am Sorry, please forgive me because I was wrong blah, blah.’ Apologies are only worthwhile if they are heartfelt. Many are not. Remember telling our kids to apologize to someone, like their little sister or playmate and the ‘I’m sorry’ is not heartfelt, or enough. You can hear it in the tone of voice, see it in their downcast eyes. They are not sorry for what they did, just sorry they got caught out!
Adults are just big kids
But, are adults any more grown up than kids? Unfortunately, not. Adults sulk, get nasty, lose their temper and yell, ‘I’m never talking to you again!’ just like kids. Age does not mean maturity at all. Families become estranged so easily over a real or imagined slight, money matters, or through divorce.
Supposedly mature adults, parents of young children, can fight like little children over very petty matters. Some partners even kill their ex-partner and/or children. Men particularly have a habit of behaving badly. They can neither forgive nor forget.
This is the extreme reaction, the extreme act of not forgiving or forgetting. But there are many lesser versions of not forgiving. Ex partners can refuse to co-operate, refuse to pay alimony, dump tons of cement in your driveway, post nasty or explicit images online. The list goes on.
There are an infinite number of ways to be nasty and being public about it is now so easy. The world can appreciate your unforgiveness. Look at Harry and Meghan. They really have a grudge and will not forgive anyone. They expect an apology. Good luck there, guys.
Unforgiveness hurts the unforgiver
Grudges are universal and thriving in all levels of society, even royalty. They are really an extended sulk, taken on to bruise the other party, but they can end up hurting the grudger even more. In time, the grudger wears his/ her grudge. You can see the grudging spirit start to erode their face. Frowns, furrows, down turned mouths, ill health settle in.
Being a grudge does nothing for either your outward appearance, or your spirit. The grudger carries his grudge like a load that bears heavily on his heart and soul. The grudge does not lift and energize. The load weighs you down and gets heavier with each year of unforgiveness. Fiction and films like to tell the story of a grudge, or scrooge, whose load is miraculously lifted by the innocent spirit of a child or caring individual. I’m thinking of Dicken’s Scrooge, Grumpy Old Men.
There’s a heap of reading on the observed fact that men get grumpier with age. Love it! Haha. It’s a sort of male menopause, due to lower testosterone, combined with the male insistence on being right.
Forgiving is liberating
The act of forgiving, like the act of apologizing properly is so liberating. A load falls from your shoulders. You can stand tall and carefree again. Your health improves, you sleep well, and stop any substance abuse. Yes, both forgiving and saying sorry, along with forgetting the slight, are good for us, whereas non-forgiveness, and holding a grudge are definitely not. However, there is an art to apologizing.
Some people are instinctively good at forgiving. Take for example the parents of the three children killed by a speeding driver. They forgave the young man. This enabled them to move forward and raise their remaining children in a healthy environment.
Otherwise, the living children would live in the shadow of death, of guilt that they survived, and their siblings didn’t. You can grieve, you will never forget, that is enough, but carrying the burden of unforgiveness is another unnecessary load on top of that.
Let go of your burden by forgiving
Life is a long journey. If you collect `grudges along the way, imagine the baggage you carry. Stooped shoulders, slumped stature, unhealthy habits, lack of energy. It takes its toll. Psychology supports this.
Let the grudge slip from your shoulders, straighten your back, lighten your step. Ah! That feels better now, doesn’t it? The other party has not apologized. Maybe they have even forgotten about it, moved on. They are not holding onto it. If so, they are unburdened, and you have been left carrying the load. If they are still sulking, well, let them. It is their choice.
Forgive, maybe even forget. Say sorry if you are the one in the wrong. Lighten your load. Smile, let your eyes twinkle, your step lighten. Life is good and too short to get bogged down in the mire of unforgiveness. We all make mistakes, but we have to learn to live with them. Learn to laugh at yourself.
The wisdom of the Christian faith even alludes to this, ‘hatred stirs up strife but love covers all offences.’ Forgive others as God forgives you and you feel great! What a gift forgiveness is. A gift that keeps on giving not taking from you.
Joni Scott is an Australian author with three published novels: Whispers through Time and The Last Hotel and Colour Comes to Tangles. Joni also co-hosts a women’s blog; https://whisperingencouragement.com/ and has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.