Advent Reflections for Single Parents & Other Rare Species 8

December 8th

The Difficult Art of Forgiveness


The Difficult Art of Forgiveness..

I am a firm believer that Nelson Mandela would not have been able to lead the country without that 27 year stint in prison..

So often great art, music and literature is born out of great pain. However, it would seem that great art can still be made without its creator dealing with his/her demons.

I don’t think the same is true of the task that Mandela undertook of uniting and leading a country that was riven by decades of hatred, oppression and war. A task like that requires a depth of demon slaying that few people ever achieve. The key, it seems to me, was his ability to forgive. And his understanding that without the ability to leave his bitterness and hatred behind him as he left prison, meant that he would still effectively be there.

Why is it so hard to be able to truly leave bitterness behind and embrace forgiveness, even when we know that bitterness imprisons us?

It was my choice to eventually leave my marriage after many years of joint counselling and more of despair. So I have not had to deal with the incredible difficulty of being left, when I wanted something to continue. However, the process of our divorce felt very unjust to me, and I have lived for many years with a level of financial insecurity that has been challenging. (I write ‘a level of..’ deliberately, because I am aware that I am still much better off than many who have faced divorce – and all sorts of other injustices.)

There is an awareness in me, that had I made a greater financial success of these post-divorce years, I would have found it easier to release any sense of injustice, and that is down to me (and various life events, including a little thing called covid). But none of the apparent injustices I experienced even make it onto the light end of the scale of those faced by Mandela and the millions of South Africans who happened to be a different colour from those in power. Yet he managed it, and that stands as a challenge to me, and to all who have suffered injustice.

At this time of midwinter and the turning of the year, I invite you (and me) to take time to reflect on what you have allowed to imprison you. Is the difficulty of letting go hatred, bitterness, anger, frustration, and powerlessness greater than the cost of remaining in prison?

What is the key that would open your prison door?

To find out more about me and my work, look here: or to get in touch to tell me your story, or for help unpicking the knots in your life, look here:

And please feel free to share this post with anyone you know who may be struggling at this time. See you tomorrow!