Monday, 22 September 2014

Lessons on Forgiveness

I’ve had to learn a few tough lessons on forgiveness over the past couple of months.

I always thought of myself as a relatively easy-going person- I don’t hold grudges, and once I have told someone exactly how their selfish, dim-witted actions made me feel I tend to move on and not drag up the past.

But I recently realized that I might not be quite as forgiving as I believed myself to be.

Laying my father to rest is easily one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  Of course, growing up, you know it to be an eventuality, but nothing quite prepares you for that moment, no matter how many times we may have talked about it (Dad always said no lengthy speeches and tedious wreath-laying. We did our best.)

Apart from the emotional turmoil, disbelief and everything else that comes along at such a time, I often found myself with a knot of anger in my stomach.  Please understand- devastated as I was that my Dad had left us, I wasn’t angry about it.  Oh no.  I was angry with the leeches and false people that crawled out of the woodwork as soon as he died.

I’m always telling my siblings that when my time comes, I will have a guest list for my funeral because I don’t want people who blatantly hated my guts when I was alive, to come and weep at my graveside all because they want a free lunch.

I am not saying that I saw such people at my father’s funeral- I honestly feel I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who hated him.  But I saw so many people who took advantage of his good nature, who didn’t bother to visit him when he was ill, who criticized many of his decisions when they would never have been shouldered with the burden of responsibility he had, stand there and extol his virtues and cry even louder than my mother or my siblings and I.  Those same people turned up for the funeral and left minutes after he was in the ground.  And haven’t been seen since.

Thank goodness.  Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.  It is still taking me time to forgive them though.

I remember a conversation I had with my Dad once.  I was telling him about a friend of mine who had betrayed me, and I was trying to explain to him how I felt.  As usual, he listened quietly, and when I was done, he pointed out that by the time someone is willing to do something like that to you, they are not going to be bothered as to whether or not you have forgiven them.  Basically, by tying yourself up in knots and refusing to forgive them, you are the only person suffering.  Isn’t it enough that you were hurt in the first place?  Why add to your pain?

It didn’t make sense to me then.  I get it now.  And turning one-year older has just made it easier for me.  Life is too short.  Forgive.  Let go.  Some way, somehow, that person will have to pay for having hurt you.

I’m still drawing up that guest-list for my funeral though.  I’ll be damned if haters are going to come and eat kalo and eshabwe on me.  Shyaa.

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