After another loud, red-faced argument with my husband, I retreated to my corner, mentally reasserting my rightness and cursing under my breath. Our angry words hung in the air like trapped dust. We’d had too many of these arguments lately, and I hated how I felt. Like the kind of woman who makes a screaming scene in public and you watch, shaking your head and thinking, What a b—-! How could she do that?
I hated too our inevitable and predictable aftermath: hours, days, of silence, polite avoiding of each other in the hallway, sleeping separately, and the only words spoken questions about food preferences or schedules of the car use.
I tried to meditate but my anger kept erupting, breaking through seconds of calm. The litany of his “faults” and “mistakes” revolved in my head like a restaurant batter mixer. I could feel myself growing physically weaker, drained from all that anger.
Desperate, I cried inside, Please, help.
Almost immediately, words came:
Love Forgive Listen Trust
The speed of the answer was miraculous, and the words themselves balm. I meditated on each in turn.
I’d lost sight of my love and appreciation for my husband. Now I was reminded of the many, many ways he supported me and, beyond all my worst, still loved me.
I replayed one of our early meetings at a local city café. It was raining, and I got there first and took a small table. I rummaged in my handbag and waited, trying not to glance incessantly toward the door. To look busy, I began a list of to-dos. When I finally looked up, he stood there, rain beads glistening in his hair. I caught my breath. Adonis in a trench coat. That‘s the image I keep.
Love really is the foundation, the ground. Whatever other accomplishments I produce (for me writing, writing, publication, publication), if my anger at him sticks like old gum, I feel no joy in acceptances or publishing my work. Momentarily gratifying, yes, but it’s all empty without my excited running into his office to share the news.
To regain love, this meditation told me, is to forgive. I forgave him for all his perceived mistakes, large (backing the car into a tree) and small (socks in the hall). For all his forgettings and repeatings, all his activities my fearful time-driving ego deemed needless or wasted, all his actions my stern mother’s eye judged short of done or done imperfectly. For all the words to others I heard him say and would have said differently, all offers to them I wouldn’t have made, or would have made differently. For all, all.
Forgiveness takes humility and pride-swallowing. It takes admitting that we’re not always right and must continually correct others, especially The Other. It takes opening our minds to more than our habitual view of being and acting in the world. It takes reluctant recognizing the infinite ways of doing things.
Why forgive? So many reasons . . . Not to forgive rivets our energy in hate, resentment, fury. We consume ourselves with our red righteousness. We leave little room, mental and emotional, for other things, especially interests and pursuits we’ve always sworn we want. Instead, we’re too busy replaying the other’s misdemeanors and felonies to devote our mind and energy to our own worthy desires.
Unforgiveness takes its physical tolls too. Our body chemistry changes with our thoughts, for well or ill. Emmett Fox says, “Resentment, condemnation, anger, desire to see someone punished . . . rot your soul.” It’s an accepted medical fact that negative emotions contribute to today’s dreaded ills—cancer, heart disease, hypertension, all the itises.
And when you nourish unforgiveness, it hangs in the air around you like radiation poisoning. You can’t outrun it, cover it, or neutralize it by false-floral antidotal sprays that dissipate within seconds. Others feel it too, and you wonder why they avoid you.
But you can listen. Listen to your Inner Voice for guidance in how to forgive—what to say and do, how to respond differently, how to see things differently. When you listen in quiet sincerity to your Voice, you always hear the answers—as I heard those four words.
When I asked and listened out of despair at my corroding rancor at my husband, so I pledged to listen inside more. I listened for guidance in seeing him whole and as unlike me, and celebrating his uniqueness. I listened for seeing myself whole too, letting go of that strict and constricting rightness and instead becoming patient, accepting, open to differences.
As I listened, I waited. In our instant-want society, we rarely wait for answers to blossom fully. But the answers are here, prompted to conscious life by our asking and waiting. The listening leads to sure action that heals. When I listened and waited, I heard.
Finally, with listening surfaced trust. Trust that what I heard truly heals. That what I battled and raged against were the lasers aimed at my own embarrassing places to learn and soften. That what I mightily and futilely tried to correct in my husband were the mirror-lessons for me. That they will continue to face me and reflect on me until I face them down.
What I labeled and lamented as these bad experiences with my husband were here because, on some deep level, I asked for them and got them. I was time to be grateful and learn from them.
So now, with a huge deep breath, I trust. That the most accepting and nourishing thoughts have surfaced and will continue to surface for us both, and the most nourishing and supportive words will be said at the right times. That I will continue to act on these realizations. That all apparent irreparable rifts are nothing more than imaginings, tiny rips that knit like small cuts of their own accord in the strong fabric of love.
And now I trust that I can apply this quartet of assuredness, love forgive listen trust, to any ripple with my husband—or to any other upset in my life.
© 2022 Noelle Sterne