Last night, as I lay in bed exhausted from a day’s work, I came to realize something — that the cause of my deepest unhappiness was unforgiveness. I realized that there were so many people I hold grudges against, and I don’t mean big balls of hatred that create a lump in my throat whenever I hear their name… because I rarely hold onto that kind of anger. Rather, I mean subtle, breeding antagonism — the kind that you don’t normally think of, the kind that reveals itself only on rare occasions, the kind that you only remember in the darkest moments before dawn and forget in broad daylight.
It all happens to us at one point. When people have wronged us — the experience has a tendency to recur in our thoughts, sometimes unintentionally, and even carry on with us for years. Usually, these scars come from people who meant so much to us, from people we secretly or openly admired, from people we respected. Our high regard for these people makes the ordeal more impacting. Even after they have apologized for their mistakes, after they have grown and changed for the better, after we have forgiven them and felt happy for them, the stigma is not erased. And when they have unknowingly done something even distantly and slightly unfavorable to us, we easily remember them as the traitor, the snob, the deserter, the slanderer, the cheater, or whatever label that got stuck in our heads back in the day when we were the victims and they were the culprits.
They say that it is easy to forgive, but not to forget — for if you have truly forgiven, forgetting will naturally follow. Now that I’m realizing all of these things, I then must have not forgiven yet. To think that it’s been years since I claimed to have “forgiven” them alarms me. It’s now that I’m learning that I had been bad at forgiving after all. What a shame to the God I serve.
I have yet to remind myself that the pain I felt for being mistreated was normal and valid when it happened, and that the pain I feel now, years after, is no more than the hurting of my own ego. It is an ugly symptom of a grudging heart, and a grudge, no matter how small, breeds and seeps through a man’s being to do nothing but take away his peace and joy. I have yet to remind myself that people are supposed channel of blessings, and I must refuse to see them otherwise, especially when they do nothing to harm me.
It was a year full of heartbreaks, and thus, a year full of new-found strength. All I want to remember now is that the struggle is done. The war is over. There is nothing left to prove. What’s in the past must be left quietly in the past. I should learn from the experience and be excited to start over again with a clean slate– for me to forgive completely, for me to begin again, for me to be kinder, for me to be wiser, for me to be more humble.
My goal for each year is simple: to anchor my ship back to shore after a long sail. It’s time to come home.