• Dr Ashutosh Srivastava

It's Time to Forgive

An unexpected affront by someone we know, someone we trust or someone we hold dear inflicts upon us severe emotional pain. The closer the person is to us, the more painful we perceive the offense to be. For it is a fact that strangers cannot hurt us, only loved ones can.

We ask ourselves repeatedly, how could this person do that? The question invades our consciousness again and again. It is not so much the act but who the doer is that torments us. We create our own explanations for why this happened. We tell ourselves that this person does not really love us, or that we are not valued by this individual, or that there was malice in that person’s heart.

Whether the offense was done intentionally or out of negligence, or simply a result of an uncaring act, we make no distinction because the pain is the same no matter what the reason was. The only thing we can see, the only thing we can feel is pain. No appeal to logic, no appeal to charity reaches our heart. We are hurt, and this feeling is maddening.

The pain causes us to doubt. It causes us to hate. It fills us with dark thoughts of revenge. It makes us consider doing things we normally would not do. And it takes all our strength to keep from letting this darkness out. Forgiveness is out of the question, because our soul cries for justice. It’s not enough that our very being has been trampled upon by the offender. But these dark thoughts of vengeance make us feel worse about ourselves.

We want to forgive, but the pain prevents us from doing so. The pain must first subside. For this to happen, we must accept what has been done to us. But acceptance takes time. The brutal reality of it is, we partly blame ourselves for allowing this offense to be done to us. To some extent we feel responsible for expecting too much, for trusting too much, for loving too much. We blame ourselves for becoming too vulnerable -- for allowing ourselves to be the victim.

Forgiveness should not be rushed. But we should be open to its process and allow it to proceed at the pace that is appropriate to each of us. The truth is only time can truly tell whether or not we are ready to forgive. And it is only by forgiving ourselves that we can be ready to forgive those who have hurt us.

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