There’s no reason to forgive someone who tells you ‘no’

Q: In regards to (your column of July 6), I really did like it. I have that (David Gates/Bread) album and have listened to ("It Don’t Matter to Me") quite a bit in the past. The song was going through my head as I read. I agree with your sentiment, it does matter to me as well. And when that person leaves to find whatever they are looking for and they don’t return, how do you forgive them? — S., Las Vegas

A: Couple of things, S., …

First, this column provoked a ton of the most beautiful, honest and moving mail I can remember receiving in a long time. From Hawaii to Arkansas. The kind of mail that reminds me why I write this column at all.

Second, please assume nothing about who or what I was writing about. I deliberately withheld that information in hopes that the reader would be more willing to wrestle with the paradox of ideals (as opposed to wrestling with speculation about me. I promise I’m not that interesting.)

And lastly, you say you "agree with my sentiment," that it matters to you as well.

Which, ironically, was not my sentiment. What I tried to say was that it’s embarrassing to notice how often my practice of love is measured by whether I’m getting what I want from a particular relationship. I was saying I want to change that, that Gates had his finger on an important ideal which took me years to recognize: selfless love — a love that sets the beloved free … a love that wants for someone’s happiness more than it wants its own desires.

But, the heart of the column was holding together a compelling tension of two ideals: selfless love and self-respect. How can we surrender the self in love without surrendering our boundaries of self-respect and thereby betraying the self? That’s my sentiment, S.

You read my column and applied it to a relationship with a particular person; my guess is a love relationship. And you ask: How do you forgive someone who won’t commit to us? Someone who decides to move on in the journey of life and does not return? You’re going to hate this, but, here’s how:

By realizing there is nothing to forgive. There is only your heart to heal. That, and your ego, rent asunder by the answer "no." But this "no" is not a moral wrong. You can be (and are) anguished, but you have no moral claim. The only work before you is grief. Which is hard work. Which is why we put it off by thinking about whether we can ever forgive.

It would be so much easier to deal with the "no" if we could mobilize righteous anger. And people do commonly mobilize anger when they love someone who doesn’t choose them, but it’s not righteous anger. It’s more like an ego tantrum. Predictable. Understandable. Very human. But hardly righteous.

There is nothing to forgive, any more than the Beatles need to forgive the record companies that said no — and no and no and no. Why did they say "no"? Because they didn’t say "yes." Because they decided not to commit to the Beatles. Because they didn’t take the risk. Because they signed other bands instead.

I’m saying it does not, in the end, matter why they said "no." The only thing that matters is that they said "no."

And the Four Lads from Liverpool grieved. They felt the pain of "no." They were tempted to despair. But what they did instead was remarkable. They somehow held on to their commitment to themselves. They would not relinquish their grasp on their beauty, their talent, their worthiness of a recording contract.

Like a mantra, John Lennon would say, "Where we going mates?" And the other three would say: "To the top! To the very top!"

And in 1962, Parlophone Records signed them. Why? Because they did. And the rest is history.

See, "no" doesn’t make us not beautiful. And "yes" doesn’t make us beautiful.

It’s for you to decide, S., whether to take the risk that you are beautiful. Then the rest of the world can decide for itself whether it wants to recognize and value the self you have decided to admire and respect.

The Beatles don’t need to forgive those other record companies. Though it would have been delicious fun, certainly, to see the expressions on the faces of those same executives when, on Feb. 9, 1964, they watched Ed Sullivan say, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles!"

Steven Kalas is a behavioral health consultant and counselor at Clear View Counseling Wellness Center in Las Vegas and the author of "Human Matters: Wise and Witty Counsel on Relationships, Parenting, Grief and Doing the Right Thing" (Stephens Press). Contact him at skalas@reviewjournal.com.

ad-high_impact_4
Life
Incarcerated Christmas
This is the fourth year HOPE for Prisoners has worked with the Nevada Department of Corrections to create a Christmas for prisoners to visit their families. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2018 Homeless Vigil
Straight From The Streets holds its 23rd annual vigil to remember the 179 homeless individuals who died in Clark County this year.
Getting through the Holiday blues
Psychologist Whitney Owens offers advice on keeping your mental health in check during the Holiday season in Henderson, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military program gave meal kits to 200 families at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10047 in Las Vegas Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. It all started with a chance encounter in a supermarket in Utica, N.Y., near Fort Drum. A soldier, his wife and infant had a handful of grocery items they couldn't afford. A Beam Suntory employee picked up the $12 cost for the groceries. The program has grown from providing 500 meal kits to military families in 2009 to providing more than 7,000 nationally this holiday season.K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women at WestCare Women Children Campus in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Former 51s manager Wally Backman chats about new job
Former Las Vegas 51s manager Wally Backman talks about his new job with the independent league Long Island Ducks during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 10, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Roy Choi on cooking for Park MGM employees
As he prepares to open his new restaurant Best Friend later this month at Park MGM, celebrity chef Roy Choi took the time to cook for the resort’s employees Tuesday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Great Santa Run
People participated in the 14th annual Las Vegas Great Santa Run which raises cubs for Opportunity Village.
World Holidays Exhibit At The Natural History Museum
Migratory Bird Day teaches adults and kids to celebrate birds
Different organizations offered activities for kids and adults to learn about birds and celebrate their migration journey at Sunset Park. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Interfaith Amigos speak in Las Vegas
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like