"The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world."
~ Marianne Williamson
Situations happen, from hurtful comments to misunderstandings to errors in judgment to personalities clashing – these things can easily make for difficult relationships.
I think it’s fairly common to ‘surface forgive’ in order to smooth it over. But, when we ‘surface forgive’, we actually are still holding on to resentment and uneasy feelings on the inside. Surface forgiving is like stuffing down the hurt to block our vocal chords from speaking. And, when we 'surface forgive', we choose to just carry on, either by ending the relationship swiftly or by continuing it as if nothing happened. This wreaks havoc on our health and does no good in healing relationships, it may even deepen the wedge.
I know the old saying 'forgive and forget', but can we ever really do it without the practice of true forgiveness?
True forgiveness isn’t about just getting along, and doesn't have to be about dumping the relationship entirely. It’s not about right or wrong. It’s about understanding that we are each imperfect, that we may not always see eye to eye, that miscommunications are a 2-way street. Practicing true forgiveness connects us as human beings- each of us is flawed, yet beautiful in our own ways. We all put our foot in our mouth, don't always say or do the 'right' things, make mistakes. I believe most people have good intent, but delivery or content may not always be 'perfect'. It's about understanding that people are affected by stress differently, and if they are going through difficult times, choosing to be compassionate, not defensive will change your perspective entirely.
True forgiveness is about recognizing that we all have a history that impacts our actions, and often our thoughts, and that there may be deep reasons another human being “is” the way he or she is, and none of us are exempt from making mistakes. Instead, let go of the anger or frustration.
Let me be clear, I don't think true forgiveness means we have to accept standards of behavior that are less than we deserve. If your gut is telling you something is unacceptable, you should remove yourself from the situation or release yourself from the relationship. And make peace with it, forgive, and move forward in your life.
True forgiveness sets us free, lightens the load that drags us down. So, today choose to practice forgiveness…release the uncomfortable feeling of discord, and instead listen with compassion, communicate with your heart, be gentler on both yourself and others.
What does forgiveness mean to you? How do you practice true forgiveness in your life?