It just seems more right, somehow, to draw a circle to shut out those who've wronged us. And for the most part, we admit it's wrong, confess the error...and keep doing it.
We rub along with that friction in our lives.
But if you're a caregiver, you'll find that you can't. At some point, if you have the unresolved hatred that's the deep definition of unforgiveness eating away at you, you'll go past running on empty, and it'll start to take a toll.
On you, and on the husband or wife for whom you're caring.
You've got to let it go. Easy words, but there's nothing else for it, but to say, "I don't have room for this any more." When you're caring for someone who's dying, you don't.
Because if you don't, you'll start taking it out on the patient, in the form of anger that you want to throw at the real target (assuming the real target is not in fact your spouse).
You'll become short with friends and health professionals.
And worst of all, you'll take it out on yourself, and start destroying your own soul.
There are four categories of unforgiveness:
- Unforgiveness for someone outside the family - neighbours or co-workers or the guy who cut you out of line at the grocery...these are the unforgivenesses we bring home
- Unforgiveness of family - the parents who are overly critical, the siblings who are insufferably haughty, the grown children who never call...these are the unforgiven ghosts that walk through our home, always there, and hard to banish for their long history and close connexion
- Unforgiveness of your spouse - the wounds to the heart that can feel as fresh and infuriating, even after years
- Unforgiveness of yourself - worst of all, this is the devil's whispering that you blew it, and that no amount of time can ever wash that away
And to be an effective caregiver, they all have to be released.
Your world will narrow as your mate's illness progresses; you'll be centered in the sphere of care, and if you take these in there with you, you will take them out on the nearest targets available.
Your husband or wife, and yourself.
The easy and pat answer is, "turn them over to God." It's a good answer, yeah, but not always easy...and sometimes, we're far enough from the Divine that it's not possible. So here are some other suggestions:
- Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity - much of what hurts us was not meant that way; it was poorly phrased, and reflects more on someone else's deficiency, or on plain bad manners
- Did it hurt the soul, or merely the ego? - egos are fragile and prickly things, because they're built on a foundation of air...the ego is how we want to see ourselves, and not who we truly are. Hurt pride doess ache, but it's only superficial, in the end. It doesn't devalue who we are at the core of the soul.
- Is the person who hurt me that important in my life? - obviously, if its a spouse 9and some family), the answer is yes, but for others...does what they said of did really matter...matter enough to give them that power over how we feel, and the power to keep us from walking the Christian path of forgiveness?
- It's water under the bridge - no matter what the hurt, it's in the past, and nothing will change it, so why give the past control over the future?
And if you can't forgive yourself for something, ask this - If my dearest friend had done what I hold against myself, would I forgive him or her>
Granted, these won't work for every injury we have trouble forgiving...but they'll work for many, if not most.
What other strategies have you used to reach forgiveness?
Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.
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Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.