Insight: Forgiveness is a sweet sorrow

Hurt comes in numerous forms. Some instances come at us like an arrow from the bow; we see it coming but cannot avoid the hit fast enough. Sometimes we do not even know we are collecting hurt feelings until we begin to unravel and our behaviour changes in diverse ways. We may become depressed, angry, oversensitive or even abusive to those around us.

Hurt comes in numerous forms. Some instances come at us like an arrow from the bow; we see it coming but cannot avoid the hit fast enough. Sometimes we do not even know we are collecting hurt feelings until we begin to unravel and our behaviour changes in diverse ways. We may become depressed, angry, oversensitive or even abusive to those around us.

Regardless of whether it’s a friend, lover, relative, neighbour or even stranger who has caused the pain, we are all capable of forgiveness even though few people can actually go through with it.

For example, if a man walked out on his wife and kids without so much as a peck on the cheek and ran off with his mistress, some women would still be cursing him  a decade later as if that would bring him back! 

We are so deeply ingrained in ourselves that forgiveness seems like the silliest solution to our problems. Forgiveness is the sweet sorrow of emancipation.

The contented burdens of animosity are sometimes ingrained for so long that we find its company comfortable and familiar.

Yet when we finally let them go, the relief is intensely satisfying but also slightly frightening.

In concrete terms, forgiveness is the decision to let go of feelings of antipathy towards the person(s) who inflicted the pain.

Thoughts of ‘settling the score’ are allowed to fade away. To be absolutely clear, forgiving someone does not mean their act was any less important or hurtful.

Forgiveness is simply moving on to peace and positive thinking ; in other words letting go of the anger.

Charlotte Kanimba (not real name) found out her husband was having an affair with his secretary and as if that was not bad enough, three months later she was diagnosed with HIV.

The anger she had for him was enough to make her commit murder.

A very harsh divorce, a couple of counseling sessions plus some severe medication later, Charlotte wishes she had gotten the chance to tell her husband that she had forgiven him.

Sadly for her, news of his death only got to her months later. He had hurt her in everyway a person can be hurt but she forgave him all the same.

Part of the reason Charlotte is alive and happy today is because of forgiveness. Much as she never got the chance to tell him face to face, deep down she had forgiven him and that is all it takes.

Sometimes, in the moment of forgiveness there is a deep feeling of release. Mainly if we have held onto the rage and resentment for too long, the instance of forgiveness can seem like an overwhelming relief.

Some people look at forgiveness like death. It is understandable.

Christine McFadden, a veterinarian in Merced, California, went out for her early-morning walk on March 26, 2002 only to return home and find that her kids, all four of them had been shot to death by her ex-husband John Hogan.

After Christine’s story had been aired on the Oprah Winfrey Show, millions of letters flew into the Harpo Studio offices with women claiming they were on the brink of suicide but felt the need to live after seeing the strength of a woman who had just lost her kids that way.

Saying it was hard for Christine to forgive John is the mother of all understatements. How did she commence to even go about forgiving the man who murdered her kids in cold blood?

I don’t know if this means having a heart of gold or simply doing what is expected of us by God. In some cases, forgiveness does not come easy and no one can even blame you for that.

Christine however said that forgiveness enabled her to stay alive and live positively. So positively in fact that she is now remarried with kids. The day her babies were murdered, she probably thought she would never be able to live another day in her life.

And why would she anyway? That was evil wrapped in a human package that went through her door that fateful day and now she had forgiven evil.

There is a saying, ‘forgive your enemies because nothing annoys them more’. In reality, forgiveness is a small price to pay for the burden that will stay with us till the day we die. Some people are simply not worth the trouble of keeping us bitter for so long.

rachelgaruka@yahoo.co.uk