When I got divorced in 2000 I had a lot of resentment towards my ex-wife. When she would come over to get or drop off the kids I would be civil, but cold and short with her. I knew that forgiveness was good, but forgiveness also meant telling her that what she did was ok, right?
Wrong. I realized that forgiveness wasn’t about my ex-wife, it was about me. What person did I want to be? I wanted to be the person I always had been, a kind and forgiving person. I couldn’t be that if I was holding it back towards the most important person in my life up to that point, no matter what she had done.
But I was confused. I thought I had to forgive first, then I could eventually be kind. But I soon realized the opposite was true. I had to be kind first, and in the act of kindness my forgiveness would blossom. So, I started inviting her in when she came over. I offered her something to drink. I asked her how she had been doing, what new things were happening. I told her about my life as well. We talked more about our kids, what they were going through, what they needed. And eventually, through my decision to show kindness first, before forgiving, I started to see her as she really was, a good woman who made a choice I didn’t agree with. She wasn’t evil, bad or terrible. She was the same woman she had been before the divorce and I could still love that woman, albeit from afar and in a different way.
So, in the end, loving the person became more important than holding on to my problem. And the result? The problem went away.
The most important thing in life is love. If you are angry at someone don’t lose sight of the fact that in the end you want your own heart and mind to feel and show love towards that person. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever get angry or upset. It means you keep in mind the end goal, the purpose, behind your expression. Have the courage to work through it within yourself and with the other person until love is what is left and the negative feeling is what is left behind.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily