This much I have learned about forgiveness: We do what we can when we are ready.
Recently I forgave a dear friend who I felt treated me very unfairly at a certain, tender point in our relationship.
For months my anger at her ‘transgression’ lingered in my mind. Again and again, I played out a nasty fight we had the last day we spoke. I ranted to friends about her wrong doings. I fretted and fumed, and so I was poisoned by fear, loathing and resentment.
This fear and loathing settled over my soul like a thin, grey gauze of sadness. “I’m fine,” I reasoned with myself. “I’m just pissed.”
I wasn’t fine.
Being angry is sometimes quite valid – yet hanging on to that anger never is. For in the end, we are the ones who are hurt the most.
In fact, all of life is a grand experiment in learning and living; receiving and letting go and then receiving once again.
So we bump into each other, teetering along on the brink of meltdowns, triggered wounds, and vacant hearts. We insist we are right, along with other illusions, and live out our days in the lopsided comfort that we are noble victims.
Then one day we cave to the worst fear of all — we decide no one will ever be good enough for us. We determine that the world is made up of bullies, tyrants and thieves, and so we give up, mostly on ourselves.
Yet there is a tender place in every heart where one can find forgiveness. It’s filed away back there behind ‘Story’, ‘Identity’, and ‘My Divorce.’
It’s in a tall, slender, dusty can titled ‘What If?’
What if … you just said you were sorry and expected nothing?
What if … the world kept on revolving and this time you revolved with it?
What if you finally forgave yourself?
It is the breach we make with ourselves that gets played out in angry snits. Behind all the parry and thrust is the simple truth that we are hurt.
Possibly we have regrets. And perhaps we even made mistakes ourselves.
What if the person in question honestly was doing the best she could?
What if she was just as triggered as you?
What if my dear friend – with whom I weathered thick and thin for a powerful and unforgettable year – was just showing up as who she was in that moment?
Do I serve myself in the quest for justice, which is often a thinly veiled vehicle for retribution? Or does it make more sense to step away quietly, sending love and leaving no stones overturned in the process.
I forgave my friend and in the end I felt lighter for it. Perhaps we will remain friends and perhaps not. Either way, I know I am loved, whole and protected.
And that all is exactly as it should be in God’s usual, quite perfect plan.