I realized after much prayer and contemplation that I first needed to forgive myself. While the people who had hurt my family were malicious and purposeful in their intent, what they perpetrated against us happened only once on their part. My anger and resentment towards them brought up their perpetrations multiple times. Each time I thought about and became angry again, each time I cried, every moment I spent in sadness or frustration, relived their actions against us. Essentially, I was hurting my family repeatedly while these other people hurt my family once. Before I could forgive them, I needed to forgive myself first.
I needed to forgive myself for being angry and resentful. I had to forgive myself for wanting revenge. (I never sought after it.) I forgave myself for being a sometimes bitter woman who narrowed her eyes. I needed to forgive myself for scanning articles of terrible accidents for certain names. (I never said I was nice all the time.) I forgave myself for not always being the example for my son that I need to be of someone who is kind and charitable. I allowed him to hear me say unkind things about people, mean things, and I am sorry about that. Lastly, I forgave myself for allowing these people to change me in the first place.
My sweet friend was right; I began to feel much joy in forgiveness. Have I forgiven everybody else yet? I haven’t. But I have peace in that and in the process. I know that it will come. I feel less angst and anger now that I have given absolution to the person who I believe needed it most: me.
Forgiveness — Who have you forgiven this year and what was the journey like that brought you to forgive them?
When I was younger I didn’t think forgiveness was difficult. Little kids are like that, tossing out “I’m sorrys” as if they were candy from a piñata, and not yet truly understanding all the delicate nuances of the pain and sorrow we can inflict upon each other.
As I’ve struggled with forgiveness over the last few years, genuinely wrestled with its complexity, I still don’t think I can fully comprehend the pain and sorrow we can inflict upon each other. It is one of the many things about adulthood I don’t understand — this almost-thrill of pricking at each other.
When I consider all that has been done to me and my family, the hurt and malicious misgivings, I wonder if forgiveness is even possible. The task seems almost impossible. I have spent much time counseling with my ecclesiastical leader and listening to his counsel. I have received advice from, Jan, one of my favorite friends who reminds me there is much joy in forgiving others. I know this to be true.