To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
-Lewis B. Smedes
We can all be prisoners of our own anger, resentment, and stubborn resistance to forgiveness. Nobody knows how hard we have it. Nobody knows how difficult it is. Nobody is there in the middle of the night, when the fears, anger, resentment, and the anxiety are in bed with us. They wrap around us like strangling blankets, encasing us in the darkness. By morning, all we can do is get up and struggle to our day. “They did this to us. They made it awful. If only they hadn’t done_______, everything would be fine.”
Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.
-Lewis B. Swedes
What if we remember it differently? What if we forgive them, forgive ourselves, and what if we see ourselves (that prisoner), who really did a kick-ass job taking care of themselves and their loved ones in the face of difficulties. What if we change that memory into 1) letting the other person off the hook and 2) give ourselves some doses of awesome sauce?
What does that leave us with then?
“Resentment is anger over time”. Says David Jeremiah in Slaying the Giants Within.
I was feeling very self-righteous, having mostly disposed of and therapied away my anger and resentment at my ex husbands. Occasionally it still pops up, but I don’t dwell on it or anything that happened.
But every morning, on my run, I would yhink of how angry I was at my boss for shortening a deadline on me by 25%. I was indignant, irritated, annoyed, and felt awful about myself that I couldn’t meet his expectations. But I just tried to suck it up, thinking I could compartmentalize it, work as hard as I could while children slept, and everything would be fine.
But it wasn’t fine at all! I was angry at other people, sarcastic, crabby, had high unkind expectations, and didn’t take kindly to jokes… I was unable to compartmentalize my anger, and it grew in my belly unchecked but more like mold than a volcano.
I had to have a nuclear meltdown before I realized I needed to stand up for myself and explain that his expectations would not be met.
We cannot compartmentalize our anger or resentment, it molds and grows and festers over to our other relatonships.
Maybe this is why when we love one person, our other relationships benefit as well by all the spread of good feelings…