The Power of Forgiveness and The Cancer of Holding a Grudge

By Guest Blogger Marala Scott

“Forgiveness is powerful and hate is too, but one heals and the other destroys. Determine what end you want to be on because they both affect your life and that of others. Lessen the burden on your spirit by carrying less anger and more love instead. Don’t hold yourself hostage to what impedes your growth. –Marala Scott

You may think that it’s easier to walk through life and blame others for your inability to forgive, because it allows you to have a constant source for your mistrust, anger, and hatred. On the contrary– what you’re doing is allowing the source of your pain to keep unhealthy turmoil churning inside of you that will only impede your healthy progression through life. It will keep every negative emotion ready to ignite or cause you to crumble and retreat passively at the thought of what occurred in your past. I’m speaking to you from experience, having been there myself for many years.

I can’t say that I had a healthy childhood or one even close to being normal, but what I can tell you is that all of the horrific and unimaginable things I had to endure, did nothing more than cultivate anger. My soul had so much pain taking root inside of me that it began growing stronger as the abuse in our house cut through me with the incessant grip of hatred.

I recall the day my mother believed she finally had support. Three women from a church promised to help stop my father’s abusive episodes if my mother gave them what they wanted. They only ensnared my broken and battered mother into their deceptive clutches. I watched my mother meet a deadly fate at their hands that no human being should ever face.

After hearing my horrific journey, no one would deny that my feelings weren’t completely justified. No one ever has. But I made a choice to remain a victim for a very long time. I carried around an unwillingness to forgive the people that caused my pain, because I thought if I forgave them, it meant I was letting them off the hook. So I spent years unwilling to let go. My mother experienced a life that was more tragic than anyone could imagine, and I allowed her suffering to blend into my life. The agonizing residue followed me into adulthood, almost like a natural progression. Pain has the tendency to do that because if you allow it to live within you, it grows, and becomes transmittable to every other aspect of your life before you realize it.

One day I looked at my life, and actually saw the pattern of my unhappiness. I saw that the pain I was so determined to carry, was fueling my unhappiness. The problem was that my anger had infiltrated my emotions so deeply. The negative energy moved comfortably in and out of every aspect of my life. I didn’t trust people. I doubted everyone’s sincerity. I grew angry at any direct or even indirect conversation about my mother or childhood. I didn’t believe there was any such thing as a healthy relationship, because I’d never seen evidence of one. In essence, I wasn’t managing my life well. My anger was in control and it caused me to miss out on a lot of healthy and positive experiences that most likely would have helped me progress to a better pace.

Holding onto the anger with the tightest grip I had, it kept me from conceding to the notion of forgiveness and cleansing my spirit. Like many of you, I knew the cause of my anger, but I didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t try.

It wasn’t until many wasted years later and a thirty-day supply of blood pressure medication each month, that I realized my unwillingness to forgive was destroying me. The people I was emotionally at war with had moved on with their life, and had probably asked God for forgiveness for what they did. Honestly, their actions had nothing to do with me, but my forgiving them had everything to do with my emotional welfare, progress, and health.

What I want you to understand is that you can’t progress if you’re holding onto fear or anger. You won’t be happy if you insist on holding onto hate. And you’re not embracing faith if you don’t trust that forgiveness will remove layers of pain. Don’t allow yourself to be held hostage to negative, destructive emotions or you are using your history to further disrupt your life. Seek peace by letting go. It’s history. It isn’t worth holding onto the inability to forgive and destroying your life over it.

Instead, invest in making your future beautiful. I did and it was worth it.

About Marala Scott

Marala Scott is a Multi Award-winning Author, Inspirational Speaker and Leadership Advocate who spends her time Teaching to Forgive, Inspiring to Live. Her efforts earned her the unique honor of being named an Oprah Winfrey’s Ambassador of Hope recipient, in addition to The Sunny’s 20 Outstanding Women You Should Know. Marala speaks from unimaginable experiences. She shares them with considerable passion, which translates into heartfelt truth. Her life-altering memoir, In Our House: Perception vs. Reality tells of her horrific childhood. Surrounded by Inspiration, Marala shares her journey of healing through faith, personal growth and understanding relationships. Her passionate and honest words will challenge you to become a better, stronger, more passionate version of you.

Are you one to hold a grudge, or do you forgive easily? Do you think forgiveness is necessary to move on with your life? Does your “forgivability” factor depend on the crime? I would love to know your stance on this. It can be a very tricky topic.

xoxEDxox

10 Comments
  1. Forgiveness! It begins with myself! Marla’s journey echoes of mine. Many years of severe, multiple abuses, encompassing emotional, psychological, physical and sexual left a shattered, broken soul in the body of a fifteen year old; who didn’t want to nor know how to live with the pain. Addiction, alcoholism and mental illness took me on a journey that spanned twenty five years. God had a plan! When I hit my bottom, he was there to hold me!on I had a faith, it was shaky, but I knew in the deepest part of my being that something willed me to live. The faith that sustains me now comes from the freedom of forgiveness, I am forgiven and can forgive! First I needed to forgive myself then I was able to enlarge the circle. The circle now includes a family that in essence adopted me when my family abandoned me, they accept me, unconditionally, as I am!forgiven I am valuable simply because I exist!So are we all! I have come to understand through my faith, my life partner, who hails from the High Arctic, his Inuit family and my fourteen year old daughter the infinite peace that comes with forgiveness. This is the day the day
    Lord has made, and I rejoice in it! Marla’s God bless you and thank you for sharing!

  2. I think that it is very easy to hold a grudge and not let go but Marala is completely correct…forgiving the ones that have hurt you is not for their benefit, it’s for your own. It’s not like you have to go up to them and tell them you forgive them but it’s something you can do internally. I love this article, especially because it is a tricky topic but very helpful. Thank you for posting this.

  3. I think it’s easy to say forgive and forget but some deeds are unforgiveable. Doesn’t anyone agree that it’s not always possible to forgive?

  4. I believe Marala’s quote echo’s the heart with “Forgiveness is powerful and hate is too, but one heals and the other destroys.” This says it all. Who are you really doing the damage to? The article is one of the best I’ve read. This is a post worth reading and sharing.

  5. Thank you so much for this. I grew up in a very abusive house, only because they didn’t know any better. I felt loved, but it was confusing because those who I trusted and loved abused me, tortured me physically and mentally. So while I was tough and didn’t allow people to use me that were friends, colleagues, etc … the ones who I thought loved me … were the ones that were the abusers. That is what I am realizing now … I was taught that narcissistic personality disorder was normal. It wasn’t until recently that I realized this has been the lesson I’ve attracted over and over (ad nauseum) through every close relationship I got involved in … although I have forgiven my abusers, I will not forget these lessons … and do what I can to stand up for others … and teach my own child by my walking my talk … to love and value herself … the way I do now. Thank you again for sharing your love and light.

  6. I realize we all have different opinions, but personally, it doesn’t mean that we have to forget…just forgive. I absolutely agree that it’s a difficult process but the options are to either help yourself move on or help yourself fall apart. The only thing left to do is to put it in God’s hands because he is the ultimate judge. Thanks Marala for sharing your words.

  7. Forgiveness is for me. It does not condone or accept the painful actions of others! It gives me permission to move on and live my life, the way God intended. Joyce Meyer says”Hurting people, hurt people. ” I forgive those who have hurt me because I am forgiven!

  8. In a brief summary here is what has happened in my marriage. Husband cheated on me with a prostitute(who used a condom with him) on a business trip (first time away from home) in the Phillipines. Confessed it to me 10 months after it happened.No STD’s or HIV, I immediately got tested!!! We have been to marriage counselling and seeing our priest. Married 27 years. He can’t answer the age old question of Why he did this?He is deeply remorseful etc.. I know forgiveness takes time, and I have emotional reactions when I speak to him, although I try to be civil. I am on the fence as to whether I will stay or leave and he know’s that. I am going away for 10 days to be alone and reflect on me,myself and I .Thank you for your blog!!!!

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