Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Forty-Two Ways in Forty-Two Days- The Ability to Forgive

Noun 1. forgiveness - compassionate feelings that support a willingness to forgive
mercifulness, mercy - the feeling that motivates compassion
2. forgiveness - the act of excusing a mistake or offense
benignity, kindness - a kind act
condonation - a pardon by treating the offender as if the offense had not occurred
exculpation - the act of freeing from guilt or blame

I have been thinking alot about forgiveness lately. The two definitions above are very cut and dried but the act of forgiveness is so much more than that. When we are hurt by someone that we care about, especially by someone for whom we care deeply, it is like an wound to our hearts. Left alone, a wound like that can fester until it affects every area of our lives. It breeds anger, resentment and spills over into our other relationships. It can exacerbate health issues and affect our work. Really- who wants to live like that?

The act of forgiveness really has nothing to do with the offender. In forgiving, you don't have to forget the wrong that has been done with you. You don't have to repair the relationship, indeed you don't even have to ever speak to the other person again if you so choose. Forgiveness, for me, is all about finding it in my heart to let go of the anger and moving past it. It is about taking back the power from the offender and channeling the energy I have been expending being angry in a more positive manner. In forgiving, you are ridding yourself of the bitterness and embracing hope and joy and that is a much better alternative overall.

I have to ask myself- which life do I want? Do I want to hold onto a grudge and let the bitterness color the rest of my life or do I want to free myself from those things and let myself be at peace? Obviously- peace is what I am striving for.

So- as with all of the works-in-progress I have in my life, I am working toward forgiveness. I am starting with the small stuff and working toward the larger ones. What I am finding is that by working my way up- I can see the progress and it gives me the confidence to keep going. Each time I forgive, I feel better- and that is a great thing! I don't necessarily even tell the person that they are forgiven- I just think about it and then I let it go- and I feel that small hold on my heart release. It has not always been easy- but the more I forgive- the more thankful I am to have found this ability.

Sidney and Suzanne Simon:
Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.

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