Exploring Forgiveness

The idea of forgiveness is one that has long eluded me. It sounded like a good idea, and I had no idea how it was done. I have not deeply understood it or chosen it when I could. For as long as I can remember, I turned away from forgiveness as an act of self-protection.

Recently, I have been exploring the idea that choosing to not even look at forgiveness greatly holds me back. I know I have much to explore in this realm, because I feel like I don’t want to write and expose this tender part of myself. 

My old, outdated beliefs about forgiveness have created a good/bad reality around certain people. I have always chosen to close myself off to someone whom I’ve perceived has gone out of their way to hurt me. I’ve burned the bridge that once connected me to that person on any occasion that I felt hurt. And the truth is, I can count on less than one hand the number of times someone has actually tried to hurt me. In fact, I can only think of ONE instance where someone truly wanted to see me suffer. 

And when I look back I can see that in most cases, the ones who “hurt” me were just doing what they needed to do to create their conditions for living. They forgot to make a phone call or got busy when we had a plan. They were not intending to hurt me, and yet I wrote them off as a way to protect myself from any sense that I may not be important to them. I layered my feeling of importance on how important I perceived I was to them. Ugh. Not my favorite discovery – and yet there it is.

So then, what is forgiveness anyway? What does it mean to forgive? Right now it feels like it means to remove my need to be seen and valued by others, and deeply root that visibility and value inside myself instead. In doing this, I allow the other to live their life fully in whatever direction life takes them without being destabilized by their choices. It means choosing to remember that I am fully valuable and valid regardless of the busy schedule of others, the mistakes of others or the pain others are feeling. As I type this, I am stunned by the fact that I am just now discovering that my worth is not at all tied into the choices of others. What a great relief.

When I attempt to apply this in the one case where someone truly wanted to see me suffer, how does forgiveness look? Well, if I apply the same generous idea above, it looks like not needing to be seen by this person, not being destabilized by their choices, knowing that I am fully valuable regardless of those choices. When I do that, I can see how I can let go of needing to be right – and holding the other person as wrong. I can see that the life path of another, does not reroute me from mine unless I allow that. 

Perhaps forgiveness then is just the pulling back of roots I planted in another person who I once perceived in some way validated my existence — and coming home to the sanctuary that is mine. Seeing forgiveness as a choice to let go and come home to myself makes it much more accessible to me. I can see now that it is time to turn and face forgiveness as a beautiful doorway for a deep reclaiming of myself.

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