April is a dark month marked with grief and wrought by the past. It’s a month for Kwibuka and our hearts are heavy. The world knows what brought this grief, but there’s need to mention the word everyone seems to be throwing around yet practiced by few – forgiveness.
It’s so simple a word to mention. It’s so simple a word to use in a sentence, in a conversation. It sits comfortably well, spread out in 11 letters. Yet on this God’s green earth with over 7 billion people, it’s practiced by a few of those that have taught their lungs to breath in patience and their hearts to know how to forgive.
And in this dark period, forgiveness is key. It’s the glue that holds us together as humans. It’s the foundation onto which humanity thrives. Without it, we are nothing. Cliché as it sounds, it’s the truth. It’s a hard, even sour pill, to swallow. It’s really hard to take it in. It’s beyond fancy words (like these) on people. It’s beyond motivational speeches. Forgiveness is a language that we need to learn, collectively, together, so that we move forth.
Last week, I had a conversation with a married friend of mine. He’s been stripped bare of his strength. He is a hollow shell. A complete shadow of his past. He is empty. He had learnt about cheating tendencies of his wife. “I felt the world crashing down on me,” he mattered, slapping the wheel, and looking away quickly, almost ashamed of himself. Silence filled the car like AC. I sat there, weighing my words and picking them carefully, and I asked him, “Did you forgive her?” It felt as though I had burst a balloon. He literally exploded and said, “I can’t Edward. I can’t.” He repeated it. Twice. And I could see his anger on his face. His veins slicing him. The base of his neck heaving. I could see sadness in his eyes. I could see a broken man. A tough man, macho and all, but broken from inside.
“That woman hurt me, Edward,” He said. There’s the way he added my name on every sentence; so unusual of him. I asked him whether he still loves her. He said he does. Then I asked him why he can’t forgive her. He said he can’t. No explanation why he can’t. He simply said, “I can’t, Edward.” Again, placing my name at the end.
I preached to him about forgiveness, almost quoting a Bible verse. But I knew he wasn’t much of a Christian. I told him forgiveness will cleanse him up. It’s like deworming. It’s like doing your laundry. It’s purity. It brushes off all the dirt that stuck in your rib cages. You will be amazed by how your heart, suddenly, throbs right. You will be surprised by how you sleep soundly. You will be surprised by your performances at work. You will be surprised by how life changes. Living with hatred is like carrying a sack of sand on your shoulders. The weight is too heavy yet you’re too stubborn to take it off. It takes a toll on you. It grows on you. It eats you up like cancer, that hatred. Eats your flesh. Eats your brain. Eats your work. Eats your life.
Most relationships end, because one of the parties refused to say, “I am sorry, darling.” Such simple words eating your relationship to dust. Again, simple as it sounds, it shouldn’t come from your lips. It should come from the depth of your heart. You should mean it otherwise, it’s like writing on water. It’s useless. It’s nothing. Let’s teach our hearts how to forgive, shall we?