This is a note that is 90% for myself and 10% for anyone else who wants to read my thoughts. Don’t take the advice as being for anyone but from me to myself. If you have ideas that have worked for you, I’d love to hear them.
After watching a buzzfeed video about – yes, that buzzfeed…- one of the Mengele twins and the power of forgiveness, I’ve been thinking about the idea of forgiveness. What does it mean, when should we do it and for whom. I’ve come to the conclusion that forgiveness is essentially a selfish act.
To me forgiveness is the act of giving up your eye-for-an-eye right to retribution or revenge. It’s giving up the idea that I get to use someone’s past as a trump card in future arguments. Not out of laziness or fear, but because of something calling me to let go.
We all have people who we’ve wronged and people who have wronged us. The degree to which you’ve been hurt may make letting go of that anger incredibly difficult, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. I remember reading about the idea of a teacher asking a student to hold a light weight at arm’s length and pointing out that it’s not just the weight of the object that makes it difficult to hold, but the length of time you’re required to hold it.
All of that anger and frustration, that hurt and hate, that justified scabby black poison we cling to as our right as survivors of past wrong. That proof of the evil of others. It poisons us far worse than it will ever poison them. It cripples us in spirit and makes victims of the same wrong over and over again.
Worse even, when we realize how many of the things we hold on to are our own choices. Things we can’t forgive ourselves for. Oh, and if you have nothin for which you need to forgive yourself A) you might be very, very young, B) you might be in denial, C) you might have done the hard work of forgiving yourself already. If C, good for you! Please share what you did.
In any event, the forgiveness we give ourselves and others is a selfish act because ultimately we don’t forgive people for the sake of their own souls, but for our own. It’s a psychological ablution, an enema for the spirit.
When forgiving those who’ve done you evil, you take a stand and no longer let that part of your past control you.
I can’t say I know what’s best for anyone but myself. I know that giving up that poison is like giving up coffee or sugar. It’s good for you, but oh, so hard.
For the sake of me (since I’m with me almost constantly), and my loved ones, I’m doing my best to forgive. Which is not the same as doing my best to forget – perhaps I’ll have thoughts on that sometime soon.