I wrote this article nearly ten years ago. It helped me overcome a relationship that hadn’t gone the way I wanted. Regardless of where we are in life, forgiveness is always a gift to develop. This article, in a way, was more of a journal entry and than a potential article to share. If I were writing it now, it would be different. The words were written in another time, but the themes are timeless. I hope you enjoy it.
The hardest thing is often forgiving ourselves; it is often easier to forgive others for their crimes against us than to forgive ourselves for being somewhat less than we think we ought to be.
Where we get those ideas about ourselves is any ones guess, but we have them none the less.
Often the areas that are the hardest to forgive are matters of the heart; where we have been wounded either by others or ourselves.
The precursor to forgiveness is some crime or mistake significant or small. Sometimes the harm is unintended at times intended. The most challenging forgiveness is where the consequences of the action have long and lasting effects for the rest of life.
To err is human and to forgive is divine, is the quoted saying. And in those times where there are lasting consequences, the search for the divine in us may bring unintended benefits. For some of us, it may be only the divine in us that allows us to move on to discover the hidden benefits that may lie behind and in us all.
My struggle for the last year or so has been forgiving myself for being less than I would have like to be.
I missed an opportunity to have a relationship with someone I loved dearly. No one knows whether it would have ended up in a long relationship or a short one. Of course, in my mind, the fantasy was the long one. But we all know that reality and fantasy more often than not live in different worlds.
As time moved on, I found myself hoping that the new relationship would stumble and fail. I found myself hating my friend’s new partner, someone I didn’t even know. I found myself hoping they would break up, actually wanting my friend to endure pain and suffering, so that I could get what I wanted.
I spent some time thinking about the situation. I stopped to ask myself the question did I genuinely love the other person in all the richness of that word and all the meanings behind it. I concluded that if my love was indeed real than I would want the person concerned to be truly happy. To experience love, compassion, care and a healthy home environment that they had lacked in a previous long term marriage.
My own mistake had led to my suffering. Where is the greatness and courage in wanting others to suffer because of our own mistakes?
Even if the relationship is short or long is irrelevant concerning how I feel and act towards people. Our thoughts only damage and colour our lives, affect all our actions and retard us in our experiences of what other things life has to offer us all.
Forgiveness sometimes is instant; other times, it takes a conscious decision of the will to undo what may be a deep mind map and world view.
Forgiveness may come indeed by like our trees in autumn. I often recollect driving down streets lined with beautiful deciduous trees on the sheer number of leaves on the ground and yet there appears to be almost no difference to the number of leaves actually still on the tree.
Yet as each day I drive down the roads there seem to be less and fewer leaves on the trees then one day almost it seems an instant, the trees have no leaves at all.
Perhaps forgiveness is like that; we seek to explore ourselves and maybe forgive little bits by little bits until one day almost without notice there is no longer any resentment, self-loathing or sense of loss – there is just love.
Of course, it may be helpful to have a big gust of wind to come along and blow those leaves off the tree a little quicker. But don’t wish for too much wind or else you may get a hurricane and end up with no tree at all.