Kicking Bitterness In The Butt

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” – Paul Boese

Sometimes it takes seeing ourselves in the shadows to know who we are. The shadows are where we don’t like to admit we hang out, but truthfully we all fall into them now and then.

I often spout the benefits of forgiveness. And forgive I do…but I’ve been known to allow anger to return and eat at me one thought at a time. It seemed I was able to forgive someone for having done something wrong to me, but I couldn’t let it go when that person did something wrong to someone I loved.  I became so consumed with bitterness other things began to annoy me.

I didn’t like the way I was feeling or acting. I was torn between whether I felt the other person deserved to be forgiven or whether I deserved to be free of resentment. My head, heart, and priorities were totally in the wrong place. While I don’t want to condone ill behavior I also don’t want to let my feelings over it rule my life. By moving on I can focus on what truly matters.

Forgiveness expands us, makes us reach beyond our comfort zone. It takes incredible strength to forgive, to truly let it go without inviting it back for a visit. I must remember compassion starts with me, if I want mercy I must extend it to others.  I pray I can be that kind of person.

Some consider forgiveness to be a selfless act, others a selfish act; truth is everyone wins. Perhaps, forgiveness is the ultimate gift of love, to yourself and the other person.

51 thoughts on “Kicking Bitterness In The Butt

  1. AWESOME post, Suzi!

    Love the photo too!

    “Sometimes it takes seeing ourselves in the shadows to know who we are. The shadows are where we don’t like to admit we hang out, but truthfully we all fall into them now and then.”

    You’re right. It’s only when I began embracing my shadow side, did I truly begin to see my light.

    “I was torn between whether I felt the other person deserved to be forgiven or whether I deserved to be free of resentment.”

    Yup…that’s how I always felt too.

    “Perhaps, forgiveness is the ultimate gift of love, to yourself and the other person.”

    Amen. When I forgive myself, I forgive others.

    Thanks for sharing this post, my friend! Great reminder!

    X

  2. Sometimes forgiveness is harder than other times, like when someone has hurt someone we love. Still, I’ve heard that forgiveness is necessary, if for no other reason than for our own health and peace of mind. All kinds of illnesses seem to start with held-in resentments. I love your statement, “Forgiveness is the ultimate gift of love.” Well said!

    • You’re right, sometimes it is harder to forgive than others because there are times the hurt is intentional or it’s an ongoing thing, and perhaps it hurts more when it’s someone close to you.

  3. Beautifully written, and I very much agree. I can sometimes be ridiculously forgiving, and people always find it so virtuous. Actually, I just don’t have the energy to hold on to the grudge! Ultimately, I feel like we all just do our best, but we all sometimes screw up and behave badly. Everybody’s human.

    • I used to be told I was too forgiving and to get a backbone, and then I did and found myself too hard-nosed…what’s a girl to do? You’re right we’re human and we will all continue to make mistakes.

    • You are welcome. Hope you’re feeling better soon. I was feeling like that for a while before I could let it go, and it sure feel good to move on….let’s hope I don’t backtrack.

  4. Hmmm. thought provoking for a reason you wouldn’t guess. I began an email conversation recently with someone who mentioned the intersection or interplay between light and darkness and how that space is the juicy place to write from. I’m grappling with that concept, and this post resonates with that concept. Your bitterness is the darkness, forgiveness is the light, and you grapple in that intersecting space, Juicy!

  5. Juicy post, and thought-provoking for a reason you wouldn’t guess. I recently began an email conversation with a new friend chewing on the concept of writing from the space between darkness and light. “That’s where all the interesting stuff happens!” she claims. I agree, but have had trouble finding that space.

    I think this post comes from there. Bitterness and resentment are the darkness, jamming up against the light of forgiveness. Sparks are flying and you capture them well.

    Nice! I think I get it better now. Thank you.

  6. I understand this post all too well. I had a situation years ago when a family member tried to take advantage of other family members over receiving “more” than one was entitled to after a death in the family. I had to wash my hands of that person. I do not wish her ill, but I don’t want her in my life either. I don’t feel anger any longer, but I still don’t want to go back. It seems that “letting go” is not happening at this point.

  7. I like being otherwise. For that reason I find myself wondering if foregiveness is such a virtue, after all. Doesn’t it merely encourage the person to continue unacceptable behaviour? I am inclined to think that foregiveness should be earned; not given for free. However, it is certainly negative to allow oneself to wallow in bitterness and hatred. The transgressor should be dismissed from one’s thoughts, as no longer having any importance in them.

    • I don’t like feeling negative or being around those who are such. Sometimes we must deal with those type of people; it is a matter of learning how to be around them without allowing them to bring you down, surely difficult at times.

  8. “It takes incredible strength to forgive, to truly let it go without inviting it back for a visit.” It does take incredible strength and courage to forgive – to release that other from our expectations – and yes, to keep turning it away when it comes knocking for a revisit!

  9. I’m not the best forgiver. I always feel as if when I forgive I am giving that person permission to do it again, or behave poorly again, and that I am accepting someone treating me wrong. So it is not easy. I would like to be as forgiving as my cat. She doesn’t hold a grudge. She will run away but always come back to love on me!

      • I haven’t learned that “feeling better.” Often I feel worse because I feel as if I let that person “walk all over me”. I think there is a balance that I am missing.

  10. I found when someone hurt both my family and myself it took many years to forgive them and the forgiveness came line upon line, not all at once.

  11. Beautifully written. You are so right, forgiveness is an ultimate act of love – if the one being forgiven does not care, it is their loss. It is a huge relief and release for the one forgiving, however. “He who angers you controls you”.

  12. Beautiful post, Suzi!

    If at first, we cannot forgive, we must keep bringing ourselves back to the task. Not because THEY deserve our forgiveness . . .

    Because WE do!

    Failure to forgive is like swallowing poison and hoping it hurts THEM.
    Instead, it kills US.

    • Janna, the pic was NOT supposed to have my shadow/reflection in it but served a purpose for this piece! It is the door of the old root cellar of the home where my father was born and raised.

  13. Forgiveness is easier said than done, but necessary if we are going to live a happy life. Forgive and forget they say, I say forgive but remember what you are forgiving so you don’t get hurt again.

    Forgiving someone who has hurt a loved one is almost impossible, but do we harbor the anger and make ourselves miserable, or do we forgive their act and live our lives knowing that we comfortable enough with ourselves not to lower ourselves to their levels.

  14. Others benefit by our forgiveness, but ultimately we forgive to allow ourselves to move past what happened. If we don’t, we get stuck in the past and it’s almost impossible to enjoy the present.

  15. So wise, Suzi. Sometimes holding on to our anger just feels good, like scratching an itch. But I’m with you. If it’s possible to forgive, it really does make you feel better. Most anger comes from hurt anyway. So if we just accept the pain and move on, it becomes easier to forgive. And sometimes we’d like to think we’ve forgiven, but we maybe truly haven’t. I’d like to think I’ve forgiven my siblings for sabotaging my memoir, but the fact that I used the term “sabotaging” makes me wonder if I truly have. :)

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