by Marissa Ellis
Recently, I read an article in Essence by Bishop T.D. Jakes about the importance of forgiving. The excerpt was taken from his upcoming book Let It Go: Forgive Others So You May Be Forgiven. The article especially resonated with me because I’ve witnessed how my inability to let go of grudges has downgraded my quality of life. “If you allow an offense to have free reign, it will eat up opportunities,” said Jake. I interpreted that to mean if we don’t properly position ourselves to deal with certain blows in our lives, we will be consumed by resentment and block the beauty of our experience on this earth.
Two years ago, someone I believed to be a good and trusted friend, betrayed my trust. Instead of confronting her about it, I completely cut off communication. After all, she knew what to do: apologize. I never got that apology. Instead, I was left with a ton of resentment, which nagged at me every single day. I was incensed that someone I trusted broke my trust. It not only affected my mood but how I approached new friendships. I was much more guarded with allowing new people into my life because of my experience with her.
My call to action came at the hands of Oprah. As I was watching her show one day, she recollected a story about being betrayed by a woman (she didn’t disclose the name but it’s thought to be Iyanla Vanzant) and how she carried anger about it for many years until one day, she saw the woman walking down Michigan Avenue laughing and looking happy. It made Oprah realize that while she was stewing in anger, this woman was just going about her life.
By not forgiving, we hurt ourselves the most. I knew that and I understood that but letting go of the grudge was easier said than done. I decided to express my feelings towards my former friend in a series of letters which I then tore up. Later, I decided to reach out to her on her birthday to simply say “happy birthday.” It was a small act but it made me feel so much more empowered because I was taking myself out of the victim role. I know we’ll never be good friends again but for the sake of my own prosperity, I had to dedicate myself to releasing my anger towards her. It was not an easy process whatsoever but day by day, the painful feelings dissipated as I made a concentrated effort to let things go.
Although everyone has different situations that they’re trying to overcome, the impact of not forgiving is the same. And obviously, it’s critical to work towards forgiveness as a matter of building and preserving health and happiness.
Have you been successful in forgiving? What strategies or methods worked for you?