After reading Paul Martin's blog Original Faith," I was spurred to some deeper thought about the nature of forgiveness and its place in my own life. As I read the input from several other bloggers who frequent Paul's site, I began to further solidify my own ideas about what it means to forgive someone. As a childhood Catholic, I distinctly remember the portion of "The Lord's Prayer" that reminds us to forgive those who have trespassed against us. On some level, the phrase, "I forgive you," has always felt a bit condescending to me. As if I have chosen the better road, the higher route, the more benevolent path and I am taking pity on the person who had the gall to 'trespass' against me. It has always bothered me. And I began to wonder why forgiving someone has historically been so difficult to do for so many.
Examining my recent past, I discovered that for me, forgiving has nothing to do with anyone but me. The reason I have found it so hard to forgive is because I am disregarding one of Don Miguel Ruiz's "Four Agreements"; don't take it personally. Regardless of the fact that certain acts performed by others have impacted me in significant, sometimes traumatic ways, I don't believe that I can honestly point to a one that was intentionally designed to harm me. Perhaps the doer was making a rash decision, a poor decision, a thoughtless decision. In many cases, there is no argument that they ought not to have done what they did. In all cases, it's not my judgement call to make.
Perhaps I deserved more consideration. Perhaps I deserved an apology. Neither of those things will retroactively 'fix' the difficulties I experienced as a result of an action someone else took. Hanging on to resentment or anger or emotional pain won't change anything, either. Forgiveness, for me, is the act of letting go of the notion that I was at the center of the act. Letting go of the idea that the motivation for another person's actions was solely to hurt me personally. Letting the negative energy flow from me and be replaced with compassion for that individual and the guilt they may feel or the hurt they were experiencing that led them to make such a choice is a more powerful healing tonic.
Forgiveness is for me. The peace I feel after acknowledging that it is possible to learn and grow and move forward is so much bigger than any anger or hurt I might have felt before. I am hopeful that my forgiveness might offer others some solace or comfort if they feel that they have harmed me in some way, but that is not my motivation. Forgiveness is about finding perspective and balance in my own heart.