Some time ago while sharing a meal with a friend a strange thing happened.
As we were eating our lunch, she glanced over my shoulder and I watched as every facial expression changed from someone enjoying a meal with a friend to that of a person filled with rage.
I watched as her eyes followed a person move across the restaurant and all the while, the tension throughout her body became more and more palpable.
After a moment she looked at me, and in a faint whisper said, “My ex-husband just walked into the restaurant.”
An instant later she pushed her plate away, and told me she had completely lost her appetite. She then sat in angry silence while glaring over at the far corner of the room.
Her marriage to that man ended 9 years ago and she is now happily remarried to a man she loves passionately and with whom she has two young children.
Watching her remarkable transformation from calm to fury reminded me of the enormous importance of learning forgiveness.
I don’t know many of the circumstances of her previous marriage. It ended bitterly amidst many allegations of infidelity on his part but the irony of what I was witnessing was not lost on me.
She had wanted this man out of her life. She wanted nothing to do with him and yet even though he had not been a part of her life for some nine years, she was still holding onto the emotional pain of her relationship with him.
What I was watching was the enormous impact her loathing for this man had on her. I’m sure he, on the other hand, was oblivious to her presence and was enjoying a pleasant interaction with whomever he had met in the corner of the restaurant while my friend was allowing her years of anger to ruin her day, and my lunch.
Some time ago in an earlier blog I mentioned a quote from an unknown author that I found to be extremely profound. It said, “Bearing a grudge is like drinking poison in the hope that the other person will die,” and I was witnessing the effect of that poison coursing through her body.
He was out of sight but her eyes remained riveted to that area of the room as if that part of the restaurant was now responsible for her anger.
Without blinking she told me how much she had hated this man, how much pain he had caused her and how just hearing his name was enough to infuriate her.
She has the good sense to understand that she was doing herself an enormous disservice and so we spent the next half hour discussing the cathartic effect of forgiveness. It was so interesting to watch that as we talked she slowly began to relax. Her shoulders dropped from an angry to a comfortable position, her facial lines softened, voice regained its earlier laughing lilt and she even smiled.
Finally she leaned across the table and said, “Excuse me for a moment there is something I need to do.” She cut out past me and disappeared. I knew exactly where she was going but could not bring myself to look.
A few moments later she returned, sat down and with a huge smile said, “I feel better than I have in a long time.”
She told me she had gone over to his table, apologized for interrupting and leaned forward and whispered into his ear, “I used to hate you but I forgive you and hope your life is filled with happiness.”
She quickly walked away before he could say anything.
She told me that by the time she returned to our table she felt as if she had shed a hundred pounds. By finally forgiving him she was not condoning his behavior but was detoxifying her body and clearing out the poison that had resided inside her for so long.
I am writing this story because she asked me to. She felt that if even one person reading this could grant forgiveness to those who may have wronged them then they too could share in the newfound freedom and release of debilitating negative emotion that only forgiveness can bring
So on behalf of my friend, who requested I not use her name, I ask you to consider forgiving those against whom you may be harbouring a grudge.
And relish in the empowerment that will wash over you the moment the venom of hatred is flushed from your system.
Till we read again.