From my youngest days, I remember hearing from church
and from my parents
how important it was to forgive others. In fact, I remember that was something I worked on trying to improve about myself, not judging
One night in a prayer group someone read from this newsletter. There was something about unforgiveness taking up room in the heart, making less room for love.
However, even though I had already heard all of this stuff, I clearly remember a day that was a turning point, where it really sank in.
I had just gotten this frozen-concoction they make in College Station, Texas. It was like a slurpee with vodka. Anyhow, I drank it up and went to see The Abyss. Sometime during that movie, the following realization came to me:
I have learned it is true that while you are angry and unforgiving with someone, or even something, it takes up room in your heart. You aren't quite as happy as you could be...you can't quite feel as loving towards other people...you are not at your best. This condition is there until you forgive. If you get angry and unforgiving with another person during this time, your heart gets even more crowded, and you are even less able to love and be happy.
What's more, I now know that if you get angry with someone and just go on to other things...this condition is just as much in full bloom as soon as you remember the person or incident. For example, on Monday you have a fight with someone in another department at work whom you don't see very often. You leave angry. Since you don't see the person, by Tuesday you're not really thinking about it. But Friday you run into the person in the hallway. Amazingly, the anger and associated mood reappear. As if by magic. Then a very old name drifted into my consciousness, someone who I left on bad terms with. I was still angry when I left them, and the feelings came back. I made a conscious effort to see the world from this other person's point of view, and tried (successfully) to forgive them. Now, years later, I felt a weight lifted from my heart.
I put these thoughts together and had a frightening realization. What happens to a person who habitually becomes angry, very angry, with other people, then just goes on about life and leaves the incidents behind. In fact, what if this is how I live my life. What will my heart be like in twenty years? Will there be all of these little corners and pieces of my heart that are hard, angry, and taking up space???? Will I become a person less capable of loving????
NO, I don't want to live like that. From this day forward, I thought, I will try to forgive as soon as I can. I will try not to distract myself from the problem. I want to have as free of a heart as I can.
I'm still trying. Sometimes I forget.