One thing I love to hear are people’s life stories. I once started a book on women’s stories but it lost its energy due to the overwhelming energies in my own life and never got picked up again. Someone wiser than I and a better writer than I will do it and meanwhile, I continue to be fascinated with the uniqueness of people’s valiant struggles and how creative so many are in overcoming obstacles. Those people are such inspirational figures and have taught me so much.
One of the common obstacles we each face is in the area of forgiveness. This can range from a small slight to a huge burden such as assault, abandonment, abuse, and other horrendous issues. Still, the challenge to us is the same: to forgive the offender while not condoning the offense, and bringing some measure of peace back to our lives while releasing our need to cling to our righteous anger at being victimized.
I’ve written quite a bit about forgiveness over the years. If it’s true that we teach what we need to know, it might also be true that we write what we need to hear. In my case, I know this to be true. I am one of those who has experienced “righteous anger” for everything from someone who steals my parking place to much bigger human interaction situations.
In the interest of anonymity, I will not mention specifics but be assured that my life has been filled with these incidents. It would seem one of my big life lessons has to do with learning how to truly forgive.
Over 30 years ago I experienced one of my forgiveness lessons and was in so much emotional pain over the betrayal of a friend that my Mother, who rarely said anything in the form of advice, quoted Mark Twain who wisely said “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
She also said, “Time heals all wounds and wounds all heels.” This quote is attributed to Fannie Brice but there is some discussion around where it originated. Regardless, there is truth in this quote and in my case, with those two quotes ringing in my ears, I was able to release my anger and hurt over time and even reached a place of forgiveness. It was not easy. It took time. But I also realized that holding a grudge or hanging on to my firm belief that I was “done wrong” by a trusted friend was hurting me and not affecting the offender in any way.
So this is my HER-story: I was wronged. I hurt. I suffered. I floundered in the land of not understanding why this happened. I hurt and suffered some more. But slowly, by repeating those quotes and understanding the wisdom in them, I was able to move from being crushed to flying free.
The reason I am writing this is because I see some of my loved ones suffering from being hurt. They didn’t deserve this. But there is some learning in these experiences that will expand their being and their awareness and their consciousness that will benefit them in the long run. For me, I am much better at forgiving. I understand the boundary between forgiving and condoning. “Love the sinner but not the sin” is a quote that I understand and live by.
People who hurt others are hurting within themselves. They need healing too: perhaps more than we who are victimized by them. Their HIS-story and HER-story almost always have a BACK story that include horrid things that have happened to them.
I’ve learned that praying for others is a powerful action. I’ve learned that holding onto a grudge and my anger does nothing for me and does not affect the offender in any way. I’ve learned that in every case there is a lesson for me in there somewhere if I but take the time to explore it.
Here is a small almost silly example from my own life: Last week I was just about to pull into a parking space near the door of the store I was going to. All of sudden out of nowhere, this young woman does a quick U-turn and pulls into it, almost hitting me in her manoeuver. (Anyone ever see Fried Green Tomatoes? “TOWANDA” came to mind!)
I was startled, and then I was mad. How could she? She is young and I am obviously not and she can walk, darn it, and I limp, so come on….where is the fairness here?
Well, first I remembered that I can always use the exercise and even often park far away just so I can get the extra steps in. Second, I remembered the days when I was young and under so much time stress and thought maybe she was so harried that she needed that extra time that that space afforded her and after all, I was not in a hurry and the extra steps would serve me.
Next, I took a deep breath, said a quick prayer for her, parked far away, and walked to the store. I had a delightful encounter with the wonderful cashier. As I walked out of the store with a smile on my face, I realized I had not thought again of the incident and was actually surprised that I hadn’t and that by releasing it so quickly I was able to then enter into a pleasant exchange with the cashier, making both of our days better. And hopefully that young woman who was in such a hurry can find some peace in her life so she is not living in such a harried fashion. Been there, and it’s not good.
As I said, this is almost a silly example, but it does give you an idea of what forgiveness can do in releasing us from the burden of carrying anger over a wrongdoing.
I’d love to hear from you ways you have released your own anger in order to free you from carrying a grudge around. Those grudges get heavier with every day don’t they…..
There is a lot to be said for moving on. Staying stuck in the past gets us nowhere, but releasing and moving on opens up limitless possibilities.
Take it from one who knows. And one who spent too many years stuck in her righteous anger. Move on. And live a wonderful life free from anger and finger pointing. You won’t believe how much better you will feel!