Love or Hate – Which of these two emotions would you say resonates more in your life?
In his book, You Will Not Have my Hate, Antioine Leiris writes about the shooting rampage on November 13, 2015 when terrorists took the lives of people attending a rock concert at the Batacian Theater in Paris. His wife was one of the victims.
Shortly afterwards, he posted on Facebook an open letter addressed to his wife’s killer that stated in part,
“. . .you stole the life of an exceptional person, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hate.”
Later he wrote a memoir book on the shock, grief and challenges he faced to move forward with his life (click on the book title link above for more information). He was instantly widowed with a seventeen month old son. How would he teach his son not to hate? How would he rebuild a life that had been so happy with his wife.
It seems we often put our focus on either love or hate or anger – with few exceptions. Can we forgive and refuse to hate?
In a 2015 post I did a book review on “Forgive for Good” by Dr. Fred Luskin, covering the points Dr. Luskin presented in letting go of hate, bitterness and resentment. (Click on the link to read that blog). In the “Yes I Can, Three Steps to Enrich your Life” life coaching program I am completing, there is an exercise on Forgiveness. Here are some excerpts from that exercise:
Tragedies or senseless acts of violence can create deep-seated resentment and bitterness that keeps us in a powerful grip. It is not easy to let go of wrongs.
However, if we remain resentful, blaming and angry, hanging onto our grudges and grievances, it will have a huge psychological and emotional effect on our well-being.
Learning to forgive allows us to free ourselves of that anger and replace it with renewed optimism, trust and enthusiasm for the future.
We remain prisoners to resentments that we choose to hold on to, becoming a victim to our own story.
While it gives us short term satisfaction to continue to repeat how we were maligned or wronged, it is a toxic and corrosive mindset that will eventually devour us.
Forgiveness is not condoning unkindness, inconsiderate or selfish behavior of anyone who might have hurt us. It is not the same as forgetting that something painful happened. We do not want to forget so we don’t allow it to happen again.
Instead, we put in place appropriate boundaries that guides both our behaviors and what we allow from others. It is not imposing our rules on someone else. It is simply saying, I choose what is right for me and hold myself responsible for my responses and actions.
Forgiveness opens the door for possible reconciliation with others. But forgiveness and reconciliation is not the same thing. Forgiveness means you make peace with a bitter part of your past, refusing to push the “Blame” button, and choosing instead how you want to live.
As Dr. Luskin says in his book, Forgive for Good, “we create grievance stories because of unrealistic and unenforceable rules we put in place.” We have expectations that life will follow some sort of predictable path.
It is not a normal expectation to have terrorists kill people we love while they are attending a concert or going to church or an outdoor market.
How easy it is to hate. It is our first reaction to senseless actions. But we choose what we want to do with that hate, anger, injustice, etc. We can choose not to hate, but instead to forgive. As Jesus told us so long ago, “. . .pray for those who persecute you.” In so doing, we can let go and focus on loving those in our circle of family and friends.
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