I’m a fan of forgiveness.
More than a fan, really.
I believe in it as a daily habit, not just when things don’t work out the way we want.
We often feel that forgiveness is the stuff reserved solely for the moments where life takes a nosedive off the deep end of normal, right into the depths of crazy.
We also often believe that forgiveness is a gift we bestow upon others; something we extend outward rather than use it as practically as we would a writing utensil when we have an idea.
Most nights before I go to bed, I write up 10 things for which I’m grateful about the day, that filled my heart right up. Then I look at 5 things that left me with a bitter taste and forgive myself for demanding that it be any other way.
I had to let go of the need to forgive another person in order to be happy.
They were always just being themselves and after all, I had to open the doorway and let them into my life. My beliefs, conscious or unconscious led them right to my heart and the places it was easiest to hurt me.
What struck me initially, was how all the upset I carried and directed towards someone else, was really something I directed at myself. Blame hid the fact that I was the one who needed to own that they upset me or shook me out of my happy place. If I’m directing all that negative at myself, it’s safe to say a little forgiveness was necessary. I often wondered whether I directed it outward because sometimes, that was a whole lot of upset to direct inward.
I’m certainly not perfect and still have moments where I give someone “the look” when something doesn’t go right or I drop a few f-bombs trying to figure something or someone out. This is how I can say it works, because I do it every day. It’s a process and quite like a big garden, it requires daily maintenance, lest weeds take over.
I’ve heard many definitions of forgiveness and I used to make so.many.lists. of people to forgive and things I had to let go of. I was a very diligent student and a determined one at that. It wasn’t until I stopped saying, “I forgive you for ______,” and started saying, “I forgive myself for believing that I was at the will of someone else and for the powerlessness that created. I forgive myself for not making self-care and respect a priority so that these things took over for a moment,” that I started making any headway.
In reality, and I know I may be opening myself up to some harsh criticisms here, there is nothing we need to forgive that someone has done. They did it, they chose and whether we would like to believe it or not so did we.
It took me a while to understand that no one needs to be guilty when forgiveness takes place either. Society sees that for forgiveness to take place, there must be someone guilty and someone innocent. Why does someone have to be “the bad one” in order for release to take place? If we require someone to shame themselves in order for us to move forward in life, how does that make us the “innocent” one? In reality we’re saying that whenever someone hurts us, we require them to hurt themselves before we can move on.
If I waited for that, I would have still been frozen in place after a lot of the things I went through. I would have stayed immobilized by my anger. Hatred would cloud everything I did because I would have to see the world through eyes of revenge in order for it to work.
It means we’re always relying on someone else’s guilt to make us happy.
The caveat here: you can be sure that if we’re relying on someone else’s guilt to make us happy, someone else is relying on our guilt to be happy.
And it feels as awful as it sounds.
Forgiveness is an inside job.
What is there for us to forgive other than people around us?
Our perceptions that our life isn’t what we want it to be.
The illusions that stem from our daydreams about someone, a job, an ideal or a friendship, rather than seeing them for who they are.
Impossible standards that we cling to for ourselves even though we know they’re impossible.
The way we dwell on negative experiences that poison our present and stop us from being able to know what happiness really means.
Beliefs we have about ourselves, which allowed certain people to come traipsing through our proverbial houses, muddy boots and all.
And all it takes is simply realizing internally or externally that the discomfort you feel at carrying around the feelings you hold no longer serve you. That’s it. No magic words. That’s the understanding where it all begins. It continues each day with a willingness to keep letting go if you need.
The shift isn’t necessarily in the realization that you need to forgive but in understanding what it means now and what to do with that meaning on a daily basis.
Forgiveness is a gift.
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that these reasons are the truth behind people’s words that forgiveness is something we have to do for ourselves.
When’s the last time you gave yourself that gift?
On The Wings of Miracles,