This is an old post on this blog. I post it really for me. I am struggling hard with forgiveness right now. If you have read this blog much at all you know of my wife’s torture with medical problems. You also know of her torture by the medical system. We finally have a new neurosurgeon that seems like someone who can be trusted, who cares, and who knows what he is talking about. He told Linda straight forwardly, “If we dont hurry up and do the surgery you will lose the use of your legs. You will be paralyzed.” I am reminded of the previous neurosurgeon who dismissed all of her complaints as manipulations and being “in her head.” I am reminded each night fresh of the pain that tortures her. Most nights she simply cries. The pain meds stopped long ago having much effect.
I am having a really hard time getting past it. I do bitter very bad.
Like I said this one is for me. I would have said some things differently if I wrote it now, but it talks about where I am at. It is a place I hope to leave. I hope soon. If it is a place you are in I hope maybe some of these words may help you too.
Without forgiveness there is no future or hope for the future. We are condemned to try to win the extra innings of a past game that can never be won. We may fight to win or to avenge past hurts, but we find the bell rings soon for the next round. It is a process without end that leaves us hollow and worn out and suspicious of the idea that anything better can happen.
In a family or relationship where one of the people involved has bipolar disorder forgiveness is the key to anything different happening. There is almost always more than enough injury to go around. There is attack and counter-attack fed by a disorder that without treatment and recovery that simple ravages the lives of everybody it touches.
Forgiveness may be something you never feel like doing. Depending on how much hurt you have endured it may be something you never feel like doing. But forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a decision. To some degree it may always be a decision that goes contrary to what you feel like doing. Payback and revenge are remarkably seducing. They feel so good when you feel like the other person deserves it.
That is the first principle of forgiveness. You must decide to do it. And you must act on that decision.
Forgiveness is a gift, not a reward. You don’t forgive people simply because they deserve it, although it really helps if you feel that way. Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. It frees you from the bondage of a never-ending spiral of debts incurred and debts repaid.
Reconciliation depends on what the other person does. Forgiveness depends on what you do. You can give it rather the other person accepts it or not. The only real question is rather or not you wish to hold onto the injuries you feel like you have received until you even the score and rather or not you are willing to live with the other person’s efforts to even the new score.
How do you forgive?
1. First and foremost give up the right to retribution. Let it go. Decide to not make any attempt to even the score, even if you feel justified in doing so. Think hard about that one. It can be so remarkably hard to do. In the Bible Jesus talks many times about the foundational truth: Do not hold a grudge. Nothing good or pleasing to God can happen while you do.
2. It helps to do this for the bipolar family if you can make a distinction between what is bipolar and what is not. As hard as it is try not to take things personal. Knowledge it would seem is important in the process of forgiving.
3. Decide to treat the other person as a person. Do not be content to chart your relationship with others based on what labels you apply to them and them to you. If you can look past the labels you may find yourself trying to treat the other person as you would like to be treated. People make mistakes. If it was a capital crime all of us would be dead.
4. Wish the other person well. Be glad if good things happen to them. Don’t feel cheated if they do good. You can not forgive someone if you have a continued stake in their misery.
It sounds simple, but it is not. It takes much hard work and commitment. The good news is that the more you practice the better you get. In time you may become a forgiving person.
Forgiveness allows you to plant the seeds for future hope. For without forgiveness everything is simply a rerun of what has already happened. Everyday is “Groundhog Day.”
God Bless you.