Have your ever been in a situation where you have the most sincerest and loving intention to help someone, restore a relationship, make peace with someone or you’re trying to help someone else understand a matter from your perspective and they do nothing but object you, attack you, and make you feel horrible for even trying to help.

You leave the conversation like, “Hold on, wait a minute. I meant no harm and why do I feel badgered, hurt and even worse than before?” This is why…

You cannot build peace with people who have war on their hearts.

What we must use is sound judgment and discernment when dealing with people who are hurting, in pain and whose pain has now manifested into a deep rooted pain, bitterness, anger and resentment. Most people who hold onto pain, eventually allow their pain to develop into those other emotions which can be deadly if left unresolved. It can lead to further stress, misplaced anger and even discomfort and disease. Several studies have proved that stress can lead to numerous health issues including hair loss, sleep dysfunction, depression, ulcers, heart disease, weight gain and even early death.

I do not know about you but I refuse to allow pain, lack of forgiveness or the internal war of others to leave me hairless, sleepless, depressed and sick.

In our minds, we think that if we remain angry at someone then we are “winning” because the other person did (fill in the blank here) and “they do not deserve my forgiveness.” Therefore, one may be fooled to believe that if you hate someone harder and longer or if you do not forgive the offender then you are winning. But who wins in the situation? The one who holds onto their pain and unforgiving spirit becomes mean, angry and bitter. Have you ever eaten something that is bitter? You know that disgruntled face that you make after you swallow the first tasteless bite? That face is a representation of who we become when we hold onto our pain and become bitter, war-driven human beings.

All the while, the person that you refuse to forgive is either living their life like its golden (perhaps continuing in their hurtful behavior) or living in misery waiting to receive your forgiveness because they know the magnitude to which they have hurt you.

Hmm…looks like a lose – lose situation to me.

Forgiveness is not about winning or losing and your forgiveness does not justify the behavior of others, your forgiveness is to set you free from that anger, resentment and bitter attitude.

Unfortunately we cannot control others, even the ones that we love the most which are the ones who can hurt us the deepest. As much as one may try to help, it is essentially up to the individual person to decide whether or not they want to continue living with that war in their hearts. Often, when we are experiencing that war, we are so knee deep in our pain, bitterness and anger that we don’t have the capacity to understand that there is a problem. We can be clouded by our own judgment in our own pain that we may not see how we’re inflicting our pain onto others, on others who may have had nothing to do with the problem because the problem is internal.

I always say that our lives are a result of the choices that we make. Although people can and will hurt you, it is your choice on how you choose to respond to the matter. You can choose to be a war-ridden person with an early death sentence or you can choose life. There is nothing more distracting from your purpose than you living in resentment and bitterness. We were not created to live that way. The essence of your strength is in your self-control and if you allow unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger to fester into your heart then you are giving away your power.

It’s so much easier to remain angry, be mean and hurtful to those who have offended you, it’s so much easier to live at war but it takes one heck of a person to pursue peace. If you ask me, that’s where the power truly lies.

Which will you choose?


Maria I. Melendez