There is a bottomless number of quotes to the effect that holding a grudge, holding on to anger, not forgiving, harms you more than it harms the other person. For example this one:
Or this one:
And I believe them! I have endlessly agonized, played the angry, hurt, disappointed broken tape in my head a million times over, wondering what I did to deserve a certain treatment, while the offenders went on, blissfully living their lives. Totally unaffected by the hurt they caused me. Continuing to hurt me with their callous attitude towards my feelings. Clearly, my anger and frustration is not affecting them in the least and I am just hurting myself by not letting it go.
Why then, do I find it SO DIFFICULT to forgive and move on? Does forgiving strip me of the right to avenge myself against those who have wronged me? Does letting go of the fire and fight for justice mean I deserved the treatment I received? Doesn’t it mean I am giving away the right to stand up for myself?
And what about the future. If a person can’t acknowledge the pain they have caused, are they not destined to harm again? Is it not our duty to protect the future from people who are unaware of the destruction they cause? Or worse, are aware and do it anyway? What about justice? How can you forgive someone who has not even admitted to doing something that might require forgiveness? Why should forgiveness be given to someone who has not even asked for it? Will this undeserved gift not just float, unclaimed, around the universe?
Isn’t forgiveness the same as accepting defeat? Is anger a war you can’t win? So you just walk away? You let things go because they are heavy? You give up because something is hard? You quit?!?
I don’t have the answer to this one. I want to be able to forgive, but I simply don’t know how. If anybody is out there, I would love to hear how you handle unrequested forgiveness and why it feels so much like a gift I can’t afford to give.
UPDATE: Click here to see how I feel about this a year later.