To forgive or not forgive

October 19, 2023

To forgive or not forgive……


I was invited to share my story at one of the banks in Lusaka, as part of their mental awareness month sessions.

I spoke my truth, my pain, my sorrow, my unforgiveness and ultimately, the acceptance of my new reality. I ended my story by highlighting the importance of gratitude. For many people, gratitude can be thankfulness of God’s blessings, of family, of good health, of friendship, of employment ( particularly in today’s global economic collapse) and of many other things I suppose.

However, my gratitude extends mostly to two things; acceptance of good days and of bad days. I no longer focus so much on the light at the end of the tunnel because, for some unfortunate or fortunate people, the light never seems to come through. The happily ever after life of success, by any personal definition, may not necessarily come true. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a pity party or a victim mode mentality, On the contrary, it is a life of absolute contentment.

When one experiences a near death traumatic event, 98% of what once seemed important or urgent suddenly falls to the wayside and almost seems trivial. So my gratitude as I mentioned earlier, breaks down into one line, dependent on the kind of day it was;

Good day; thank you Jesus, I made it through the day,

Bad day; thank you Jesus, I’ll try again tomorrow.

The gift of life is Grace personified, as I have experienced.

At the end, came the question and answer sessions.

Question; have you forgiven the drunk driver who changed your life?

Answer; No.

At that point I got the feeling I may have been the wrong person to have been invited, as they perhaps had hoped for a happy-clappy end session. But alas, they got me instead.

End of session. all I really wanted, was to just grab my branded mug, diary, an insanely beautiful pen, that I’d been gifted and run like a bat. But no, I did what I have practiced and perfected over time; smiled and nodded, with the occasional, “ thank you for having me”.

Just as I was about to make a dash for the door, the CEO of the bank pulled me aside and said,” you know what I think?”

no. what are thinking?”, I asked with my plastic smile plastered across my face,

I think, you have forgiven that man, but you don’t want to think that you have”.

I turned my face away from his prodding eyes, so as to hide the tear that had escaped my restraint. but the flood gates of heaven would open and years of resentment came flooding through, because in that moment, a stranger saw through my façade and I resented his insinuation, which had a high probability of truth in it.

First came the salty tears across my cheeks, as I pinched my nose and eyes to stop the buildup and then, the gentle trembling of my shoulders, until I could no longer keep it in. I let out what I thought to be a whimper but came out as a loud wail of a woman in mourning.

Right there, in the middle of mental health awareness week, I confirmed what I had known all along, that, I was the wrong person to invite, to encourage, to inspire, to give a little hope to perhaps one person or more, going through or had gone through similar distress. Instead, I suspect that, that session was probably more damaging to the staff than bringing the message of healing and hope.

(In my defence, I did warn the lovely lady that had invited me to share, about being the wrong person, But nooooo, she said; it will be wonderful, she said, with a slight foreign accented drawl).

This stranger of a man, gently touched my hunched shoulders, patting them in little tap-tap as if not sure, but giving, I am here kind of assurance. He then gave me the most wonderful gift. The gift of silence.

In my experience, it seems that most people don’t understand, that a person living with anxiety and depression, can find the simple act such as turning on the TV on one given day, can appear overwhelming.

And so, to forgive or not forgive, is a decision my head had made, that my heart was rejecting. And so, the gift of silence that the CEO had extended, was the alignment that both my head and heart needed. No shoving of biblical scriptures down my throat, but the simple-question statement of sorts, revealed another side of the story. I had forgiven him, without ever realising that I had done so.

Later that evening, in the comfort of my bed, hugging my iced Gin n Tonic, I whispered towards the heavens;

“Thank you Jesus; am not sure about today. But I made it.”