FORGIVENESS IS NOT AN 'ACT'... IT'S A STATE OF GRACE
Keeping heartache in the heart is a self-destructive gesture...
Those who do not forgive are physically, emotionally and spiritually ill."
- Pope Francis
One of the things I do not like to watch about myself is my angry bouts. I often get into angry bouts at home, in my classes and at times at other places. But, because most of my time is spent at home – with my family - and at my work place – with my students – the people who are directly affected by my anger – shall I call my ‘temper? – are my own family people and students…
When my anger fizzles out, I look back and laugh at myself. That saves me from going insane or poisonous. I have never found myself – mercifully – ever set on a justifying trip. No, I feel very, very bad about my loss of composure… I feel sorry and resentful, even though there is a lot of scope for justification… But, the fact that, no amount of justification can change the reality that I have lost my composure… that, there was definitely another way to deal with the person, another way to handle the situation, more dignified, more compassionate and holistic – yes, this realization that comes in hindsight tells me that it is futile and unwise to justify my angry bouts…
So, there I am… licking my own wounds!
For instance, today was one such ‘bad-hair day’… I have been shouting and yelling – ‘lecturing’ – at my poor students.
‘Poor students’? Or ‘Poor teacher’?
If at the end of all that fussing and fuming, yelling and screaming, preaching and lecturing… yes, at the end of all this, if I can feel compassion for myself and the other person, then, it is perfectly fine to lose the handle now and then… The danger, definitely, lies in keeping the poison in my heart… Keep digging it up again and again… in being aggressive, brute and sarcastic too often. If this kind of behavior shows up in me repeatedly, then, I do harm to other people and myself, both.
We all are like mighty elephants… We can fall… And, we do. Every time I lose my handle and go on an angry path, a silent voice tries to guard me simultaneously… I call it ‘Grace’… The same voice helps me recover quickly… let go, forgive, forget and move on… Above all, learn from the episode and grow as a fallible human being…
Early this morning, my wife had shared a lovely message from Pope Francis. Apparently, it was the message the Pontiff had delivered at a Retreat. The whole day passed with my screaming and shouting before my students. So, now – it is night now – when I read this message, I felt as if Pope Francis had sent it exclusively to me. Here it is:
FAMILY, PLACE OF FORGIVENESS...
There is no perfect family. We do not have perfect parents, we are not perfect, we do not marry a perfect person or have perfect children.
We have complaints from each other. We disappoint each other. So there is no healthy marriage or healthy family without the exercise of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is vital to our emotional health and spiritual survival. Without forgiveness the family becomes an arena of conflict and a stronghold of hurt.
Without forgiveness, the family becomes ill. Forgiveness is the a sepsis of the soul, the cleansing of the mind and the liberation of the heart.
Whoever does not forgive does not have peace in the soul nor communion with God. Hurt is poison that intoxicates and kills. Keeping heartache in the heart is a self-destructive gesture. It's autophagy.
Those who do not forgive are physically, emotionally and spiritually ill.
That is why the family must be a place of life, not of death;
Territory of cure and not of illness;
Stage of forgiveness and not guilt.
Forgiveness brings joy where sorrow has produced sadness;
Healing, where sorrow has caused disease.
The beauty of Pope’s message is that it applies not just inside our families, but outside, too. Holding on to our hurts and disappointments or making peace with them, is a choice that we all have to make for our own well-being. Forgiveness is never an ‘act’… it is a ‘state of grace we all choose to be in’… It’s worth it, anytime, any day, anywhere. As Pope Francis says, when we choose forgiveness over resentment, we choose Life over Death.
Pic.: Meena Kapoor