You should have read somewhere that when you forgive people, you forgive yourself too and that it may not be for their personal growth but yours. And you wonder how true that may be. But what you read above may not be far from a certain truth – an uncomfortable one. When you forgive people, you don’t live with the heaviness that hangs around the neck of those who usually never forgives or forgets.
I lived in a compound – in Nigeria, that means, a place where you share space with people. You may have your room but you share corridor, cooking place etc with neighbours. You share bathroom too. And I have had moments when I have not been comfortable with certain people. The best I do for them is to greet them and try to move ahead with my life. But deep within me, since I do not like them for a past that has either had us exchange words or just stay apart, anytime I come across them, I seem to come across the combined forces of one that may be a familiar stranger and a competitor for malice. And it does change my mood. It keeps me at a place of recalling their faces or not speaking while they are around. They literally control me. Un-forgiveness is like that. It has a stronghold on you. It keeps you where it wants you to be.
Imagine that you have clothes on the laundry line outside, to sun and then it rained. And your so-called neighbour who you are observing a cold war with is around. He looks at the weather and sees your clothes on the line and walks into his room to clink glasses with himself. Your clothes stay in the rain and rewash itself. And the circle continues. You become part of a rat-race, to avenge or to watch pain flow.
When you forgive people and let them know where they have hurt you and how you should live with them, you become a sort of rare creature. You have taken on such power that uncommon people posses. You have defeated stereotype. For you to have confronted that which could have held you captive, you have taken on a new cloak of awesomeness. People will hurt you but how do you stay unhurt? Do you think you need the hurt to go through everyday challenges? Do think that your every smile should be dented by the remembrance of someone who for some reasons does not like you? You have to learn how to understand that humans are filled with so much more than nice. And though they have niceness down somewhere inside of them, it won’t always show up. Humans would want to experiment and deliberately show you a side that hurts and it would be fun to them.
Live with a great power, to let people go and their hurt and live lightly. I am not telling you not to beware of them and their ways. A passage from the Holy book would tell you to be wise as serpent. I doubt why wisdom, such that is needed for day to day living has to be sourced from a serpent, same that was cursed, same that played no positive role in the narrative of the holy book but take heed. It may just be so necessary.
If you can forgive and focus on that which makes you happy, every other thing would be secondary. I have battled with it but my little successes tell me that I am a better man letting go and taking notes of all that has not gone well. I become better with such mindset. I hope to see you on the other side of greatness – of forgiveness.
Bura-Bari Nwilo lives in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He is the author of A Tiny Place Called Happiness.