Forgiveness is a spiritual concept that has just recently come across my radar.
By recently, I mean within the last few years. “Forgiveness” continued to be the topic in newsletters, Facebook feeds, books I was reading, and conversations.
When you start seeing/hearing the same topic repeatedly, that is Spirit trying to get through to you.
At first, I was just a tiny bit curious about it. I didn’t feel like I had anything big I needed to work on forgiveness-wise, so surely this didn’t apply to me, right?
Forgiveness applies to all of us, whether the transgression is big or small.
I had known people who had been the victims of terribly abusive situations and had been able to forgive; I know people who had lost loved ones to the act of someone else’s actions and they had forgiven.
These were huge, life-changing & altering events — these were the types of events being referred to, right?
And surely, if someone could forgive in those types of situations, I could forgive someone who pissed me off over something petty and silly 10 years ago, couldn’t I?
As I worked through all of this, I realized it was harder to do than I thought.
Holding grudges had been a point of pride in my family. When names of people were uttered, we would state how we had nothing to do with them anymore and the reasons why were often petty and childish.
How tragic, that we cut people out of our lives over things like that.
But we did and we had, and it was a part of my tapestry — even though it was wrong.
Everything that I was finding was telling me to make a list of all the people I need to forgive; some said to list the reasons why, but honestly, I don’t think that matters.
I started my list. At first, it was not easy to think about who I needed to forgive.
I wanted to hold onto those hurts, that pain for some reason.
It was like a badge of honor in a way, to say someone had wronged me and I was not going to forgive them.
“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting it to kill the other person.”
What reason could I possibly have for not forgiving someone?
Did I really think these people from a previous time in my life cared if I hadn’t forgiven them? I doubted it. I doubted they even thought about me at all.
How did it make me feel to think about how I had hurt people and to think they still were hurt or upset?
Not good, but then ego got in the way, and I said, “I don’t care — they deserved it.”
But, I knew there had been times that I had been gifted forgiveness by people I had hurt, unintentionally but deeply, and knowing they were not harboring ill will gave me so much relief. It truly is an act of grace.
As I worked through my list, more and more people came up…from situations in my early childhood that I thought I had forgotten. Those kids who called me fat, the boy who dumped me for my friend, the friend who ended up not being there when I needed her the most.
The boss who treated me like crap and made me (and everyone else) feel less than; the company that let him get away with that behavior. The friend who only wanted me around to help her but never had time to listen to my problems.
The superficial things came first. Then evolved into bigger issues.
My father, for not wanting me or loving me and for beating me as an infant. For not paying child support and putting a financial burden on my mother.
My ex-husband for making me feel like I was never good enough. For putting everyone else first before me.
Other issues came up as well…it was a purifying experience. To purge all of these emotions on a list. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted.
How do you know when you have forgiven someone? When their name comes up and you can wish them well or feel empathy, instead of taking delight if something bad has happened to them.
After I started this, I saw a shift happen…that day, I had a client contact me about work that turned into a long-term project. Most importantly, I realized I was an emotional hoarder and let all of that shit go. I knew I was supposed to forgive for years — I knew that from all the things I studied and KNEW, but hadn’t done it.
So I added myself to the list, too. I forgave myself for the mistakes, the missteps, the stupid shit I had done for years that I knew better than to do. I may have been the biggest one I needed to forgive to, as I get angry at myself daily.
I still continue the list, writing names down as they come up. And I will until it becomes an automatic response.
It really is for us more than is it for them anyway.
If you need to be coached through the process, don’t hesitate to reach out to me for help.