Without forgiveness life is governed by…an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.
– Roberto Assagioli
The positive cycle of forgiveness
OK, be honest. Do you hold grudges? Do you allow old drama to determine your behavior? Is there someone you just can’t seem to forgive? Grudges and a non-forgiving attitude do nothing but harm both parties. You might feel like you’re “winning” by not letting someone off the hook, but you’re only increasing your own worry and stress. Bitterness can lead to hate, which can sour a life. Today, write a letter explaining your point of view to the person you feel resentful towards. Clear the air; forgiving him. Even if you don’t send it, it is an excellent way to relieve tension. Forgiving someone does not absolve them of the wrong that you experienced. It can simply free you to live a life that isn’t anchored to the hurt and resentment of past events.
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I was never one to hold grudges. Nope. I got even, usually, without the person even knowing it. Imagine evil gleam in my eye as I plotted. HA HA HA. My passive aggressive style was brilliant. But then I grew up, or life happened, and I discovered some things just weren’t that important. Revenge was one of them.
I learned something else as well. I wasn’t always right. Is that to say I was never wronged? Of course not. Is that to say life is fair? Uh, nope. Aren’t I really just a door mat then, taking it and taking it? I am not.
There is a lot that happened in my past that I could be bitter about; angry about. A lot of resentments I could harbor, but I CHOOSE to live my life in such a way that everything is a blessing. Good or bad. That doesn’t leave any room for resentments or anger because there is none.
Somehow, someway whatever it is, is going to turn around. When my daughter’s dad and I divorced. I was young and hard hearted. I cared about me, and me only. He dared to want full custody of our then, 3 1/2 yr old daughter. I was floored and angry. Babies belong with their mothers. This is how I grew up and this is how she would grow up. How dare he! Did he really think I was a bad mother?
I didn’t think about what was best for Sydney. Nor did I think about what was fair as parents, who both had a part in bringing this life into the world. I was full of revenge, and resentment towards him wanting to keep me out of the picture.
Turns out, back then, his attorney advised him full custody wasn’t an option. I felt like I won! Revenge was sweet.
Years later, I am horrified at my behavior and thought process. How could I have been so cold? So selfish? Why in the world did I not think of Sydney? Was I numb to her broken heart when I picked her up from her Dads and she cried for him the whole 40min drive home? Why did I think it was about her rejecting ME for him? When it was really HER needing more time with her Dad.
Today, I am with a man who has two young daughters. He has visitation every other weekend and very brief dinner time twice during the week. I see their joy when he takes them in his arms. I see how much they need him and miss him. I hear their cries on the car trip home to their mothers.
Friends, I have come full circle from being that mom on the one side, to being on the other side in the Dads situation. I understand my part, from way back then, more than ever. The blessing? I have more compassion towards Jason and the girls than I ever would have had. I understand completely. My love overflows for them and their anguish.
I have forgiveness for situations like these that are so very hard. I can forgive myself for my part of the custody arrangement with Sydney’s Dad. For being so hard, unrelenting, and immature as an inexperienced mom who just didn’t consider other possibilities than what I grew up with.
Luckily, her dad and I were good friends a little after the divorce. He cared for Sydney whenever he wanted. We lived in the same town, and even the same street for a while. It worked out in her favor, but only because I allowed it to and did not hold my resentment a prisoner in my heart. And you know what? Neither did he.
He was not out to get me. He was out to do and be the best father for his child. I wanted the divorce not him. He was just trying to survive the aftermath with his baby he dearly loved.
I am grateful for my positive cycle of forgiveness. I am grateful for all that I have learned (and will learn). My hope is that it carries over into the lives of our children. I hope they will practice forgiveness and live free and happy.
Choose to forgive, don’t waste any precious time nurturing the seeds of bitterness. Spit them out, swallow your pride. Be kind to yourself and fill up with good things. It will make way for great love and understanding in your soul. It will bring you peace and joy.