Heart Led Health by Coach Donna

Monday / March 12 / 2012

Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past

When I use the word, forgive it’s often coupled with, battle or struggle — as in, “It is such a battle to forgive my daughter’s ex for his cruelty.” or “I still struggle to forgive the mother of my husband’s daughter for poisoning her against us.”

Forgiveness is H.A.R.D.

The antonym of forgive is resent. Much easier.

Believe me, I understand how it feels to use your whole body to hurl ill will at someone. But as with any rigorous activity, it’s exhausting. CLUE: not for them. Which begs the question, who is suffering?

Dr. Elisha Goldstein aptly states, “We can begin to forgive, even though we will never forget” — noting understanding and compassion are key for the ones suffering to come to terms with the way things are, and to slowly let go of allowing the atrocity of their past to rule their present and future.

I love Lily Tomlin’s famous quote about forgiveness:  “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.”

The forgiveness in your heart is real and powerful — but there is an equally formidable counter-part that is unreconciled, so there’s a battle going on. It does not mean you have failed. In fact, I believe just the opposite.

The question becomes: have we forgiven or are we forgiving?
The answer is one which has set me free on many levels: Both.

The numerous times I’ve spent in the classroom of  forgiveness taught me this important lesson: once I choose to forgive (and it is indeed a choice), I enter the process of forgiving.

If it weren’t a process, I’d be “done”. And I’m not. I know I’m not because why else would those feelings keep coming up? It doesn’t mean I keep jetting back to Square One. In fact, often I don’t wrestle with anger, resentment, or bitterness at all. Sometimes it may only be explained as a pain memory.

The freedom comes with the realization that the past cannot be changed, and that only a release of it shall create a better future and present. It’s a realization that holding on to what could have been is constraining you from what is and what can be.


6 responses to “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past”

  1. Sue Mills says:

    Donna, you are a very brave person to forgive. It does take a lot of guts to do it. God bless you always Sue Mills

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      God bless YOU, too, Sue Mills. You are an amazing woman with a heart bigger than most. I am so honored to know you.


  2. Dawn says:

    Great job Donna!! The past can be so heavy and if we take that one little step it can be so freeing, especially when it comes to forgiving ourselves. We can be part of the list of those needing our forgiveness as well but when we let go of the past and accept we can not change it, no matter who it relates to we can finally move on to a better future. Love ya!

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Great point about forgiving inwardly, Dawn. Thank you for your insightful comments. Love you, too!


  3. Walter Combs says:

    A wise person once said life can only be lived forward, but can only be understood backwards. Understanding that also helps one forgive because understanding – yourself and your life – are what forgiveness is all about. And your past is your mistakes – the things you did to hurt yourself – as well as the things others did to you.

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      The past includes our fears, yes, but is so much more than that. The past is who we once were and a compilation of what shaped the “me” each one of us is now. Thank you for your comments, Walter.


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