I like to think of myself as a work-in-progress. At fifty, there are still many short-term and lifelong goals that I want to reach, and dreams that I want to accomplish. Those goals have not diminished as I’ve aged; if anything…they have intensified. As the saying goes, “Life comes at you fast.” So fast, in fact, that it’s necessary to let go of things that are holding you back or dragging you down, or standing in the way of emotional and real-life progress. In that spirit, and in recognition of yesterday’s unsung observation of National Forgiveness Day, it’s important to realize the impact that forgiveness can achieve. While it may be a tough pill to swallow, it can also be just the remedy needed for forward momentum.
We’ve all had those seemingly unforgivable random acts of unkindness generated towards us at one time or another. The remembrance of the act fester in the wounds left by the attacks on our hearts, and our souls. Left untreated, the wounds grow deeper and deeper, until it consumes our spirit and our mind. Such consumption is stifling and prohibits our true purpose to achieve happiness on many levels, both personally and professionally. The big question then is…how do you forgive?
1. Recognize that harboring the resentment in your heart is not beneficial. And, I’m talking long-term here, folks. Obviously, a freshly-broken heart or spirit isn’t ready to forgive and forget. It takes time to heal. But part of the healing is being able to forgive enough to enable yourself to look to the future and remember what’s really important…your happiness. Holding on to the resentment won’t make the hurt go away. In fact, the opposite is true. Holding on allows you to relive the pain and keeps it fresh. Surrendering the resentment enables the wounds to heal.
2. Forgiving does not necessarily mean forgetting. Although forgiving will promote healing, remembering fosters learning, and there’s something to be learned from almost all of life’s experiences. For example, in a particularly hurtful situation, where forgiving is essential for your own well-being, remembering can offer helpful insight when it comes to similar future circumstances. Because you have forgiven you can move forward, but because you remember, you are stronger from the realizations that you have ascertained.
3. Why do we forgive? Because we ask for forgiveness. As Paula Deen so southernly put it in her most recent interview, “If there’s anyone out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, if you are out there, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me. Please, I want to meet you.” You get the gist…we all have faults, and therefore we all make mistakes. Hence, at some point, we all seek forgiveness. I know, I know…it’s not so cut and dried, you say. But, like any wise, old saying that we’ve referenced from the recesses of our minds from time to time throughout the years, such as “treat others as you would like to be treated,” or “every cloud has a silver lining,” forgiveness is something which is inherently known to us as being right, and something that we will – from time to time – inevitably pursue.
Some quotes on forgiveness:
Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting. ~William Arthur Ward
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. ~Mahatma Gandhi
Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. ~Mark Twain