Forgiveness: A Good Recipe from My Grandma’s Cookbook!

March 10, 2023

Ugochi Guchy Kalu (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer


Time is precious and fragile, and holding on to the past only increases the weight of the shackles bound by unforgiveness. Relief comes from letting go, and true power from forgiveness. 


I once read an analogy made by a great teacher on unforgiveness. He described it as the poison we drink, hoping it kills our enemies; I disagreed with his stance at the time, but eventually, I totally understood and accepted that analogy as true and factual. Oftentimes, we hold so much bitterness that it weighs us down, hoping the offender feels the same way. Truthfully, they may have moved on, having completely erased the relevant events from their memory, while the person holding on is simply building a castle for  bees in their mind. 


Forgiveness is the stuff of everyday heroes, the ultimate measure of internal peace, a gift both to yourself and others, a testament to the quality of your heart, growth and evolution. Forgiveness is many things, but it is not easy. It is a choice one makes everyday, it is a fresh perspective, a healthy distance, a measure for psychological flexibility and resilience. I dare say that forgiveness benefits the forgiver more than the offender. 


In a world filled with imperfect humans, there is no shield against all that can be thrown at us daily, no defense against every unscrupulous fellow, no protection from the myriad accidents and incidents that drain our minds, and certainly no limit to the length we can go to hurt ourselves and others intentionally and unintentionally. This goes to show that we might, from time to time, need to forgive ourselves, as we could be our own worst offenders. 


My friend Shalini’s father lived with the burden of guilt for almost seven years, bedridden and losing his limb functions. He refused medical help and physical therapy after a fatal auto crash that took the life of his son. He felt guilty for having survived while his son died, and he could not get over the fact that the car which killed his son was a gift he himself had bought. He wished he could turn back the hands of time. He wished he had died in his son’s stead.


This burden not only affected his health but also his family dynamics, as all joy was lost. His relationships with his wife and other children were strained, and little by little, they found that they could not laugh out loud anymore. Truly, unforgiveness does not drag its victim down alone, it loads others into the same truck, headed for ultimate destruction.


Joy eventually returned and healing began soon after he took into account the cost of his guilt and how much of a burden he had created in his home. By slowly accepting, forgiving and seeking help, his and his family’s health improved a great deal. 


I would like to think that most of us have come into contact with hurt, pain, burden and guilt, and can agree that they all leave unpleasant tastes in our mouths. From resentment, distress, depression, anger, anxiety, bitterness, fear, insecurity, hatred and failed physical health, the dangers of not letting go creates a high tide that often ends up wrecking our emotional life-boats. 


As a child, I was used to piling up anger, resentment and quiet vindictiveness. I would always seek revenge, and often feel fulfilled once my offender had received the same measure of pain meted to me. Sibling rivalry was unavoidable and, in my case, I would often go head-to-head with my older brother. My grandmother, in the end, would always try to broker peace between us and encourage me to let go. A few times, I imagined she loved me less, wondering why she would not find me justice, but rather recommend forgiveness. 

I certainly never enjoyed her recipe of forgiveness, no matter how well it was marinated before serving. A few years later, however, I began seeing things her way, and started valuing peace of mind. I realized that one can have a thick skin texture in addition to the other benefits that come with having no emotional burden to carry around. My grandmother’s recipe was right and delicious after all!


While peace brings healing, forgiveness holds the key to achieving lasting peace. As someone who struggled with letting go and is still struggling, I have noted the keys that aided in my victory against vendetta. To start your journey, you must forgive yourself, develop a forgiving mindset through empathy, find meaning in your suffering and rely on others for strength when forgiveness gets difficult. These are the surest steps towards complete forgiveness and soul renewal. 


Some people may believe that love for another who has harmed you is not possible, but there exist many people who were able to forgive and opened their hearts again to those who hurt them. If we shed bitterness and put love in its place through constant practice, we can unlock a new level of living with higher purpose, thereby creating a legacy of love that outlives us. 

My name is Ugochi Guchy Kalu. As the former director of the Vendetta Group of Humans, and as someone who turned from revenge to love and forgiveness, I tell you that letting go is much more beneficial than holding on. Let it go!

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