I come from a long line of grudge-holders. With a few remarkable exceptions, my family members have turned blaming others for their unhappiness into a fine art. Which is why something I heard today in the movie “The Light Between Oceans” means more to me than merely another line in another movie.
Rachel Weisz’s character is married to a German man in Australia in the years after World War I. He is not a very popular guy, so in addition to the hardships he faced in Germany during the war, he is treated badly by the people where he lives, including being shunned by his wife’s family. She asks him why he is such a happy person in spite of all that he has endured. He answers:
You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day, all the time. You have to keep remembering all the bad things. It’s too much work.
That is so true, isn’t it? I never thought about it this way, although I can say from experience that bitterness, resentment, and moral outrage make me really tired. I know a few people who would be a lot happier if they took this idea to heart, but that is not for me to say. For myself, I will remember this when I think to be angry with someone for something in the past that no longer has a remedy. Forgiving is a lot less taxing than holding on to that old injury. Let it go.
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