The Priest started with a riddle: “What does everybody need to do, nobody wants to do, and most people don’t know how to do it?”
I guessed death. Wrong.
The answer was FORGIVENESS.
First, yes, everybody does NEED to forgive. Our lives are miserable if we hold anger and angst in our minds. Daily activities lose joy, and we neglect our future by wasting precious energy on somebody’s past hurtful words or behavior. We NEED to forgive for our benefit. Hanging onto what the wrongdoer did doesn’t affect them much, but it destroys the health of the one carrying around the hurt and hate.
Second, no, we don’t WANT to forgive. Pride and winning or losing enter the equation, and we think, “It will be a cold day in the Mohave desert before I forgive that so and so!” Truth: That so and so doesn’t even know what is eating us up inside or that we are wasting life with nasty ruminating thoughts of things we can’t change or control.
And, yes, most of us have many skills, but forgiving isn’t one of them. Forgiving someone feels like saying what they did was okay. That’s not it at all. Forgiving doesn’t change the action, but it helps clean up the mental mess left behind from the unkind act, like a vacuum.
Forgiving isn’t easy; it is tricky and doesn’t happen overnight. When I need to forgive someone, this is what I do:
I go off by myself and pretend the person is sitting across from me, and I talk, scream, and cry until there is nothing left. I get it all out of me, and nobody else gets to listen.
I say, “I forgive ______ for _____.” I list specific details of what I’m forgiving. I might not be able to forgive everything, so I’m clear on what I’m able to forgive.
I forgive myself for any reactions toward the person or people who hurt me.
I set goals to fill the spaces in my mind and heart left vacant from forgiving with fun ideas, plans, inspirational quotes, and friends who help me laugh.
I remember words from my wise mother, “Bless them on their way.”
The goal is to decrease the harm caused by past injustices.
Try what works for me to help rid your body, mind, and soul of damaging revengeful thoughts. If it helps, YOU will be the beneficiary. You will likely have to do the steps several times, as once doesn’t eliminate all the negativity. It is difficult to stop the circling of excruciating details. The fear, frustration, hurt, and unfairness we feel because of someone else’s choice of words or behavior can fade but then pop up again. Whoever did whatever to you or me is not worth a day or a lifetime of damaging hostility running through our bodies.
Forgiveness allows us to exchange anger for freedom—a pretty smart trade.
Until the next time: Live while you live!
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