A few days ago, a friend invited me to the final session of a course he was completing on effective communication. One of the speakers that night was very funny as he spoke about how we all hate our problems, but how we actually do love them. He said, “We all have Ph.D.’s in our problems,” and everyone laughed without knowing what he was talking about. He paced back and forth carrying a chair on his back as a symbol of our problems, saying, “You say you hate your problems, but actually you love them; you take them to work, you take them to dinner, you talk about them to your friends, and you go to sleep with them, etc.”
It’s the same with people we pretend to hate, he added. “You love the people you hate; you do the same, you speak about them, you think about them before you sleep, you talk about them to your family and friends.”
I could see everyone in the audience was thinking, That is right. All the while, as he was carrying the heavy chair over his head, he would stop and massage his back since the weight was heavy on his shoulders and head. He then said, “No wonder our problems and hatred get us sick; they are heavy to carry. Put them down by acknowledging them; do something about them and stop carrying them.”
He put the chair down and said, “Stop giving power to your problems and those who did you wrong 20 years ago. Instead talk about things you truly love, things you dream about, and things you are thankful about. Talk only about things that build you up.”
I have been speaking about forgiveness for a while now and how it freed my heart in the most unlikely situation. You see, when we carry anger and hatred, we don’t realize how much we talk or think about those problems or people we don’t like, and they take over our lives and make us sick in one way or another. The Bible says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” The experts say, “Where your focus is, there is your success.” We have the capacity to redirect our focus and our attention; why focus on what destroys us more than what builds us up?
I want to reassure you that forgiveness is possible! Anyone can forgive as long as they are genuinely willing to let go of the bitterness. However, you cannot heal what you don’t acknowledge. So if you don’t feel peaceful, take time for silence, find a mentor, a friend, or a spiritual director who can help you find the root of your anger and lack of peace.
I have been there myself; we can’t blame others for our unhappiness.
After time, it becomes stronger than we are. But if you will it, it is always possible to let go and live peacefully. We must keep our hearts open to the grace of God so that we are aware when we need to forgive others and ourselves, or if we need to apologize. Even then, we are still human beings who make mistakes, but with genuine attempts, we can reach a better place.