Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Themes of My Life: Forgiveness

After the letting go... there is a time to explore forgiveness. That's a word we throw around a lot, but I don't always stop to examine what it means -- what it is, and what it isn't, and why I can find it hard.

I have a tendency to think that forgiveness is saying, "Oh, that's okay, don't worry about it" and moving on.  But, I'm not sure that's it. Forgiveness isn't just forgetting what happened, or saying that what happened didn't matter -- that it doesn't matter. Because it does.

It does matter.

Especially at the moment where you're moving on and letting go, forgiveness has to be a lot more about you than it is about them. It's a lot more for you than it is for them. It's what begins to heal your wounds. It stops what they did from turning into your bitterness and anger and shame. None of us want to be shackled to an unhappy past -- and wallowing in the hate that can build just keeps us chained to it.

Choosing to forgive sets us free from those chains. It helps us rise above what happened -- not because what they did doesn't matter -- but because we do.

But, it's hard. Sometimes I don't want to. I want to stay here where I can be a little angry.

So, I have to be straight about what happened. I have to admit the choices I made, and the ones that they did. This is not the place to sugarcoat for anyone, but it's also not the place to let my judgment fly. Neither for them nor for me. Just be straight...

I need to learn from the past -- but I also need to let it stay there. I live so much in my head sometimes that it's tempting to re-litigate everything that happened. Everything they did. Everything I did. Conversations I'd like to do over.

But you can't go back and change those things.  You can't go back and change who you were. You can't go back and change who they were. All you can do is to choose differently going forward. And, like letting go, sometimes that's a choice you have to keep making.

I'm not done with this step. I know I'm not.  Sometimes I think that I am, and I feel like I can finally take a breath.  And then... my resentment and bitterness flare up, and I realize, "Okay.  Not quite there yet."

I'm not sure it's really them that I have trouble forgiving -- but me.

I can forgive them for lying to me. I have a harder time forgiving myself for believing those lies, for excusing it, for not calling them on it, and for deciding to live with it.  And somehow or somewhy, that manifests itself as still being angry with them.  Because, I guess, I'm angry at us both.

I need to be able to offer the same forgiveness to myself that I try to extend to them. I need it to be okay that I was flawed in all of this, too. And probably I need that more.  Them, I can say Goodbye to.  Me, I have to live with for quite awhile.

And, all of this said, even as I still walk toward that forgiveness and even as I know that I'm not there yet -- I'm not upset about that. I have walked this path before, and I know that I will get there with some time and with some distance. It will come.

Just not yet.


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