“Love’s voice reverberates with forgiveness across the room of our heart.” — Munia Khan
What if the true test of love is being hurt by someone and then loving them anyway? To one mind, this thought is absolutely terrifying. The prospect of being vulnerable around someone who hurt you is too big a fear to even consider. To another mind (who probably had done wrong and was given a second chance), this is the only thing that makes sense.
I’ve learnt that everyone is going to hurt you, and it’s virtually one hundred percent not on purpose. People cannot help who they are. People are not you. Your standards and values may overlap with others but there will come a time when you see a contrast you don’t like, because all people are guilty of two things:
1. Acting in their best interest
2. Acting out their traumas
There is no exception to this, but what are the implications?
Firstly, the things you’ve done either in your best interest or unconsciously done due to past pains seemed perfectly legitimate to you, but could’ve damaged someone you care(d) about. Secondly, the reverse is true. Your anger towards someone was caused by someone being who they are.
We all know that breaking down why one might be angry isn’t always the key to actually letting go of resentment, which is the very definition of forgiveness. You could know the psyche of the person who hurt you inside and out; it doesn’t mean that you are going to stop hating them.
The only way that you would ever stop hating them is to first allow yourself to feel as angry as you may feel and then make the decision to stop hating them. This is why love and forgiveness are very similar.
Love is a decision but it is often said to be a feeling. It feels like an unconscious thing that erupts within us when we are treated in a loving way or when we see someone who portrays our values.
But what happens when we aren’t treated lovingly or when the person changes? Sometimes, the “love” dies. Other times, we accept what occurred and drop any resentment that we feel. That is forgiveness but it also comes from making a decision.
People show us who they are, but we need to pay attention and accept what they’re showing us. We cannot ignore it in the hopes that they can fulfil a dream that we have.
When we do this and when we remember that people are who they are, it is not only harder to get angry at people, it is easier to love because you’re actually loving who they really are. You won’t be getting mad at illusions you invented, or even the ones they might have tried to sell you. The truth always comes out.
Also, when it comes to relationships, we can determine once and for all if a certain person stays in our lives or not. As was said earlier, everyone is going to hurt you because they are simply acting in their best interests or from trauma, and that is going to rub anyone else the wrong way because they have their own interests and traumas. Everyone hurts everyone.
Therefore, when we see to what degree and frequency they hurt us, we can decide if this person should be in our lives or not. If after asking them to be more sensitive or mindful in their actions towards you, they remain exactly the same, what choice do you have but to walk away?
Obviously, the hardest people to love are those who hurt us the worst and the most often. However, they are just like us, doing the best they can with what they got. If we lived their lives, we’d be just like them.
We can try to talk ourselves out of hating them all we want, even though we often don’t. But as relationship expert Kemi Sogunle wrote, “You cannot love if you cannot forgive.”
However, this is not only limited to having a difficulty loving someone who hurt you. It has much wider ramifications.
If someone hurts you in a particular way and you never made the decision to let go of resentment, any time someone does something remotely similar, you will be triggered. You might lash out and the emotion that was stuck within you is then used as a weapon against someone who meant no harm.
When you give love, you feel love. Also, when you give hate, you feel hate. It is the age old adage of “what you give, you receive.” Everyone knows this but perhaps it isn’t as obvious to us at times.
One might ask, do we really need to love the people who hurt us? Should we love the greatest villains our world has ever known?
I understand why most won’t, but I also understand why the greatest villains became the greatest villains and why the greatest heroes became the greatest heroes. They both faced the same problem each and every one of us did — somebody hurt us.
They had the same choices as we did: love and forgiveness, or hatred and resentment. The villains went one way, the heroes went another.
Which path are you going to take?