Last weekend my husband and I were invited to my brother’s house for lunch.
This is always a cause for celebration for many reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that my sister-n-law is an amazing cook who always serves us a delicious Indian meal. After lunch we were sitting in the living room and sharing stories from the past. I was laughing so hard, tears were running down my face.
Those tears of joy suddenly brought a lump to my throat. Here’s why: Ten years ago, my brother and I couldn’t stand to be in the same room. Back then, I lived in India; he worked and lived and traveled all over the world. But he often flew in unannounced to visit our parents — even though he’d cut all ties with his siblings. (To read the detailed story of this fractured relationship, get a copy of my book Losing Amma, Finding Home )
If I happened to visit my parents and saw him there, I’d turn around and leave as fast as I could. There was so much anger locked up in that relationship.
Then my mother died. My father followed her eighteen months later. And I made the decision to forgive. It is the most powerful choice I’ve ever made. The one choice I’m so very grateful I made. Because it changed everything for us four siblings — especially for me and my brother because we live only forty-five minutes away from each other.
Anger is a powerful emotion. I held on to my anger for many years because I was holding on to the beliefs that:
- I was right
- I’d been wronged
- The one who’d wronged me needed to be punished
- Anger was my way of punishing him
It was my mother’s death that helped me make the decision to forgive. I realized a very important truth.
Life is so short. I don’t know how much time I have left.
It stopped me in my tracks. It made me think: If I took my anger to the grave with me, what would I have accomplished? Nothing. Zip. Zero.
I’d loved my brother all my life and he’d loved me. Until a series of things went terribly wrong and everyone lined up to take sides and point fingers. But when my mother’s cancer diagnosis became real I knew I didn’t have any energy to keep the fight going. I needed my brother.
Sitting on his couch and sharing jokes and stories, I thought back to that moment when I made the decision to forgive. I would never have had this Sunday lunch moment with him if it hadn’t been for that moment of forgiveness. My heart was so full.
You’re probably considering forgiving someone you’ve had a difficult relationship with, but you’re thinking:
- What if they don’t accept my forgiveness?
- I don’t really want them in my life even if I choose to forgive.
- What if they don’t want me to be in their life anymore?
- I cannot handle the thought of opening myself up to being hurt again.
Don’t worry. Forgiveness takes only one person: YOU. You can choose to forgive someone and choose not to:
- be in their life
- invite them back into your life
- have them forgive you also
- open yourself up to being hurt again
Here’s what you will do by choosing to forgive. You will:
- Have more peace
- Clean up your karma
- Invite more of what you want into your life
Here’s the truth: How other people treat you is their karma. How you choose to respond is yours.
If you’d like to share a story of not being able to get to forgiveness email me at email@example.com