“Is it better to be right or to do what’s right?” – Dr. S.O.S.
“Life is too short.” That was ultimately what I shared with my patient’s husband after he looked at me with tear filled eyes and explained that he really wanted to reach out to his son and ask him to “re-friend” him on Facebook; following an 8 month long disagreement over something that happened last Thanksgiving. He explained that the rift between him and his son was reminiscent of his mother’s death and he was grieving.
My patient felt very different about her husband’s desire to “reach out” to their adult child given that they had, in her opinion, made so many other attempts and had been denied or rejected in some way. She was offended by her son’s denial of her perspective and her wounded feelings and she was choosing to act in kind. She felt that if he couldn’t or wouldn’t acknowledge her thoughts, opinions and hurt feelings, why should they go out of their way to try, yet again, to reach out to him, after all in her mind she was right.
This all boiled down to being right versus doing what was right. We talked about this at length during our time together in this session. I’ve seen so many patients struggle with this issue and I find it’s ultimately about forgiveness. It shows up in many forms; someone says or does something intentionally or unintentionally to hurt someone else and is unwilling to acknowledge or is completely unaware that they’ve offended the other and an entire relationship is jeopardized, in some cases lost. Friendships are ruined, husbands no longer speak to wives, mothers no longer speak to sons, daughters no longer speak to fathers, brothers no longer speak to sisters and so on. All because someone is determined to hold out to prove that he or she is “right”.
In most of the situations I’ve counseled patients through, it’s been more a case of both parties have done some things right and both have done some things wrong. Normally, it’s really a misunderstanding, but neither person is willing to extend the grace to the other. They won’t accept responsibility for the role they played with no regard given to the other persons attempts at correction or their complete disregard. Somewhere along the way we’ve come to believe that if we say we’re sorry or we ask for forgiveness for what we did (intentional or not) or if we forgive (whether it’s been asked for or not) we are somehow being weak or giving in. We have come to believe that forgiveness means the other person has “won”.
What I’ve most often seen are the losing outcomes that occur as a result of unforgiveness. In my own life as an abuse survivor, I almost lost the love of my life by hanging on to unforgiveness and allowing my abuser to control me long after my relationship with him ended. If I had allowed that, I would have had no one to blame but myself. Forgiveness is not something we do for someone else…make no bones about it…it is a very selfish act. Forgiveness is the gift you give to yourself.
Unforgiveness sits in the soul and festers like a puss filled wound, malignant with resentment, rage and regret. Two opposing emotions cannot occupy the same space at the same time. So if you are filled with unforgiveness, you can’t possibly love…there is simply no room for it. It is not the love of another that you’re not able to express that is most concerning, it is the love of self that you are unable to give that is sacrificed in your effort to hang onto unforgiveness. “Life is too short”. Forgive him, her, them or yourself today and move forward into the life God has purposed for you.
“Life is about relationships. Your relationship with God. Your relationship with yourself. And your relationships with one another.” – Dr. SOS