Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
All of the things to truly do right, forgiveness just might be the hardest. It’s painful to be wronged by an enemy, yet infinitely more painful to be hurt by a friend, colleague, or family member. And the last thing we’re ready to do in the heat of it or when the dust settles is to grant our persecutor sincere absolution. After all, our pain and martyrdom have earned us the right to be angry and stay angry.
But what happens to our other relationships and to our personal wellbeing when we stay mad or merely grant a surface-forgiveness? You know, the kind of forgiving that just requires the words “I forgive you” to be uttered? I think we’ve all done it a time or two before. Personally, I’ve struggled with sincerely forgiving when I have been attacked because I carry the words around in my head, unintentionally allowing the event to live far longer than it ever should, and in the end, I’ve punished myself. Meanwhile, the person who hurt me, intentionally or not, tends to move on or may not even realize their actions. Or worse, they may never take responsibility or find sorrow in their malicious actions.
Recently, I’ve been confronted with people who seem to operate in a way that, when they are in my orbit at least, is rude and even confrontational. Due to my nature (easy-going, people-pleaser), they immediately upset me. So straight away, I feel my nerves tighten and my face flush. My words get tied up; my thoughts are totally jumbled, and emotionally, I’d like nothing more to do with them, ever. But we all know life isn’t that easy. We come in contact with difficult people and difficult situations on a daily basis, and we can’t control the masses. What they do and what they think is entirely under their control.
So, for me, I’ve made the decision to not only survive in my working environment, but to try to thrive in my place in time, no matter the challenges I’ll face. The first step in doing this will be to forgive the very people that hurt me. And in order to forgive from a deep, sincere place, I am going to have to pray for those people and for myself. I am going to have to give them the benefit of the doubt and try earnestly to understand where they may be coming from. I want to decrease my ego so that I am humble enough to let my pride go. This way, I can sincerely want the best for the very people who act out against me so hurtfully.
My mother always told me—your mom’s probably said it too—that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent what we do with it. When someone hurts me or someone I love, all I can do is handle my 90 percent of the situation. The wrong has been done, and there’s no need to dwell on it or prolong the pain.
In my life, I hope to be able to look over my shoulder and know I conducted myself with grace. And I have to believe that if I practice sincere forgiveness, that I will become a stronger, more peaceful person when the next storm rears its head. You see, sincere forgiveness isn’t just what we do for our enemies; it’s what we do for ourselves. And as Gandhi once said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” So here’s to forgiveness and strength.