I read, therefore I quote. I can’t help it. It’s what I do.
“What do people in your life need to do to be forgiven by you? what must happen, if anything, before you are willing to see them for who they are today, rather than for what they did to you long ago? How do people redeem themselves, in your eyes? Do they need to admit what they did? Do they need to repent? Do they need to have changed their ways, and if so, for how many years before they have proven to you they are truly deserving? . . .
. . . One school of thought . . . People who hurt us in the past are to be regarded with great skepticism, and we must be wary that their cleansing ritual wasn’t just an empty pantomime. Every time people screw up, it’s proof that they have not really changed. This is the guarded voice in our ear, the one that wants to lay out tests before forgiving. At heart, it’s the voice of someone deeply hurt who wants never to be hurt again . . .
. . . The other school of thought . . . those who wronged us are not required to show remorse or beg or admit everything they ever did wrong. Under the other school of thought, the burden of proof is definitely on the atoner. In this school of thought, the burden shifts to the forgiver . . .
. . . But hatred serves no purpose and there is no profit in hanging onto a grudge . . .
. . . Forgiving your enemies is the easy part. The hard work is in forgiving those you trusted to care for you, those precious few you believed would keep your interests in mind, the one person you thought would never do that to you. Forgiving those you love is not something you do once, like a ceremony. It is required of you, in some form, every single day.”
from Why Do I Love These People?: Honest and Amazing Stories of Real Families
by Po Bronson
A few months before I read the above in Po Bronson’s book, I heard something which became a pivot point in my life. It has multiple versions, and is attributed to different people, but the meaning remains constant:
“Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
There is a person in my life (I’ll call them “AnitSpock”) who “deserves” my anger and resentment. For a long time, I held onto that anger and resentment like a well earned trophy. I paid a huge price for it and I was NOT going to just let it go. But, after years of “taking poison,” that big, ugly trophy is just too freakin heavy to keep lugging around. And I’m tired of dusting it.
As a Christian, I admit I struggled with whether to attempt to repair the relationship. As a student and teacher of communication, I logically believed I should and could, but as a subjective participant in the relationship, I had significant doubts about any resolution.
So, I tested the waters. I tried to open a discussion about some things which had hurt me. AntiSpock became viscously angry and attacked. And I knew. There would be no restoration of the relationship. I no longer expect or hope AntiSpock will recognize or regret any past or future actions and choices. There will never be an opportunity to explain how I was hurt. There will never be an apology. AntiSpock has no idea what caused the relationship to deteriorate. Instead, there is a belief that I’m angry about only one recent choice. There is a belief that I don’t understand that one choice and that if I did, everything would be fine.
AntiSpock will never be the person I need(ed) and wish(ed) they would be. And I finally grew tired of hearing myself whine about it. “AntiSpock was mean to me. wah, wah, wah.” NOW what? When I was done whining, the problem was still here. That was another 5 minutes I’ll never get back. Another 5 minutes I took away from my kids. From my friends. Another 5 minutes I wasted instead of focusing on things which edify me. Another 5 minutes given to Antispock and they weren’t even THERE.
I refuse to be a victim any more.
There’s a glimmer of peace now because I realize MY restoration has nothing to do with AntiSpock, so there’s nothing to talk about or resolve between the two of us. One less guilt-laden item on my to-do list.
As a Christian I have to be true to my convictions, so I give AntiSpock the only thing I can. Grace. And every time I give it, I pray for a refill. Like manna.
If you have a quote to share from something you’ve read recently, feel free to comment and/or include a link to your own “. . . therefore I quote” post. I’ll try to make this a regular Thursday theme. If you do join in and write your own “. . . therefore I quote” post, please include a link back here? Thanks!
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4 thoughts on ““. . . therefore I quote” Po Bronson”
Tough – tough to go through yet finally seeing that you don’t need to drag around all of that hurt is so freeing! I am so happy for you. Thanks for sharing this because even though I think I’m not drinking the poison with a few folks, I know that I am. Thank you.
I used to be very, very angry, no, LIVID with someone whose actions caused us a great deal of sorrow, worry, tremendous financial hardship–actually a domino effect on the lives of my husband, my daughter, and me. Someone who wasn’t anyone I knew or loved, and had never even met face to face. I used to dream of ways to exact revenge. Yeah, I had it bad.
It took many years before I was able to let it go. I don’t know if I forgave him, or if I just got so blame tired of thinking about the situation and stressing over it, or if it just got to be so far in the past, it wasn’t worth the effort to think about it any more.
At any rate, eventually we realized that God had taken the event and used it to bring some good things into our lives farther down the road–people and things that would never have been there otherwise.
That doesn’t always happen, but it didn’t happen until after I was able to let my anger go.
Thanks for sharing this, JSM. Love that last line!
You have to hold onto uinforgiveness. If you turn it loose, it goes away. To hold onto it, you have to squeeze it. But it’s like a big Florida sandspur_ the more you squeeze, the more it hurts thr one doing the squeezing.