I had touched on this topic before. But after reading Jacques Philip’s “The Eight Doors of the Kingdom” Chapter 5, there’s greater insight.
Forgiveness sets us Free! Not forgiving keeps us trapped in the Past. Does anyone truly want to be “chained” to (unpleasant) events of long ago?
The author shared a story of meeting a wife who had been betrayed by her husband. He had cheated on her, damaging the bond of marital intimacy. Despite her suffering and pain, she knew she had to forgive her husband. She told the author, “I’ve read all the books on forgiveness but I’m just not getting there.”
The author identified the issues. Not forgiving her husband offered two great advantages/benefits.
Extracts from book:
‘First, she was the victim, the innocent saint, and he was the sinner. To forgive would require a lot of humility on her part. It would mean giving up her position of superiority and placing herself on the same level with him: both of them poor sinners, he sinning against her and she with her own faults, perhaps less obvious but just as real as his, yet remaining together, each of them embracing the other with his and her limitations.
Second, she had difficulty renouncing her authority over her husband that his wrongdoing gave her. As matters stood, she felt justified in reproaching him, keeping an eye on him, and exercising a hold on him. Forgiveness would mean renouncing all that control and power. But although painful, in the end it is a source of peace and happiness, a way of freedom.’
End of extracts.
The wife, when counseled on this, was able to forgive and forge a renewed relationship with her husband!
What a gift to be able to internalize all the above. Jacques used a memorable phrase, ‘Getting out of the tit-for-tat mentality’. Applying the logic of reciprocity of exchange to every human interaction is a recipe for disharmony. Don’t keep an inventory of mental chits, of IOUs that one expects or demands of others, be it for (perceived) wrongs/injustices done, or services not reciprocated. Practice free giving, free loving.
This is one of those topics that should be required high school reading and discussion. Society will reap a tremendous harvest.