Forgiveness can often be the hardest gift to give. It takes courage to forgive. It takes understanding that in forgiveness of others we also forgive ourselves. The healing from forgiveness comes when we forgive not only those who have wronged us and our past hurts; but also when we grant permission to ourselves to forgive our own mistakes.
Forgiving lets go of anger, bitterness, resentment and retaliation. We finally release the control those emotions had over us. We decide in forgiveness that it no longer matters what could have, would have or should have been. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you instantly and forever forget the memory. To the contrary, you retain the memory and hopefully use it as a teachable moment, something you will learn and grow from. You become entirely free to move on.
Mahatma Ghandi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” To forgive it takes strength but also compassion, understanding, awareness, love and acceptance. There is great strength tucked in to all of those emotions. We all have the strength but it is a choice to use it to forgive.
What I find brilliant (insert sarcastic tone) about forgiveness is that once you forgive, move on and reach a level of peace, that person, place, thing, situation or behavior resurfaces like an unwanted weed in a beautiful flower bed. It becomes your test, a barometer if you will of whether or not you really forgave, moved on and learned from the teachable moment. Did you truly find peace?
A few weeks ago a piece of a “weed” that took me an extremely long time to pull out of my garden and forgive resurfaced, seemingly out of nowhere and literally stopped me in my tracks. It took me a few moments to register it all. I quickly realized that the piece of my “weed” didn’t resurface to hurt me again. It resurfaced randomly after years because I was ready…it was my test. I was reminded that I learned from the teachable moment; that I used my strength for forgiveness of the “weed” and of myself. That forgiveness in this situation was the ultimate act of unconditional love that I could have ever given myself. I had found peace amidst indescribable chaos.
I also realized another gift the forgiveness provided me when this piece of my “weed” resurfaced. I felt a new level of courage and confidence that gave me the permission I didn’t even know I needed to verbally articulate the hurt that occurred. I did not care about the response but instead received clarity and an even deeper level of peace…dare I even say a sense of tranquility around it all.
Forgiveness is a journey. Depending on what/whom you are forgiving the journey could be a few days to many years. Take it. Work through it. Feel what you need to feel and explore what comes up. If you need to stay in the darkness keep it brief; choose to have a cup of coffee with the darkness but do not invite it to move in. Teachable moments are always clear and may not lay in the hurt, so make a conscious decision to be open to learning and finding a new way of awareness or understanding.
I will leave you to ponder a quote from Bryant H. McGill, “There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” The gift of forgiveness may be hard but it is worth it.