Forgiveness, if that is not key to living a beautiful life I don’t know what is. For me, growing up, forgiveness always came from others. I looked for forgiveness from others. I was taught that way. So whatever I did wrong it could not be made right until someone forgave me for it. Forgiving myself was never mentioned. And in turn, I could forgive others for whatever they did. Say “I am sorry”, “Its okay, I forgive you”, how many times did we hear those things? And I am not faulting my parents, they doing their best to raise a good girl. Basing my sense of self on whether someone did or did not forgive me gave away my autonomy. Of course when raising a “good girl” that may have been a goal.
But now I am grown and everything I knew when I was young had to be looked again.
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Forgiving someone, in the traditional “I forgive you” sense, holds a certain power over the person. It is a control issue, Without someone’s forgiveness a wrong I have done is held over my head. I cannot move on, because they don’t forgive me, they are still mad. It is like holding a little piece of me hostage. Same if I am holding out on forgiveness for someone else. I am still mad at you, you can’t be happy. I need you to feel bad until I am done being mad, and then I will forgive you. Like I get to decide when you can be happy. We see this all the time in relationships of all kinds.
It’s time to let those games go. That takes forgiveness and warps its true beauty and intent. Over and over these past years I have seen how forgiving is really about setting myself free. Its never really about the other person. I think the first time it really came home to me was in a relationship that had blown up. You know, he done me wrong. And I was mad, for a long time. And I suffered. And somehow in my little brain I thought he was suffering too. I was mad at him, I did not forgive him, he must be miserable. And then one day I ran into him, and he was fine. Not miserable, not suffering, fine. And I realized he did not need my forgiveness to move forward. I was the only one walking around with anger and hurt, holding on to those uncomfortable feelings. Now whether he forgave himself, or simply never thought he was wrong, I don’t know. But he moved forward to live happy. So I had to look at that.
Now over and over I have learned how forgiving really releases me from the situation. Its not about condoning bad behavior. Its not about saying it is okay. We never have to accept that for ourselves or anyone. It is about not holding on to the anger that only poisons us. What do I want in my body? How do i want to feel? I get to decide that. Because really, if I am mad at you and holding on to that then I am the only one effected by my thoughts and feelings. If you truly forgive yourself for your part, you do not need my forgiveness. And when I can forgive myself for my wrongs, I am free.
A CSL minister whose name escapes me said “If I see you and I do not smile, I have work to do”
Another friend said just the other day “when I wake in the morning I think, who do I have to forgive today”.
This is all about setting ourselves free. Free from holding on to unpleasant, uncomfortable and unhealthy feelings. Free from the false belief that we can (or need) to control others by bestowing or withholding our forgiveness. It is hard enough to move through all of these thought and emotions that make up our lives without taking on someone else’s.
So what do you think? What anger can you let go of so your life can move forward. Where can you forgive to free yourself? It is never about them, it is always about you. Remember that, they will move forward and your forgiveness it not needed for them, but it is needed for you. Let us live happy, let us live free, let us forgive.