on forgiveness

To everyone with a problem (to all of whom thought their problem was unique):

For so long I listened to people who told me that a certain doctor, a certain pill, a certain diet might make my stomach feel better. When those didn’t work, there was the acupuncture, the massage, the chiropractors, the herbs and the books. The list goes on. All of it heals, yet none of it heals. Our bodies are simply the intermediaries between us and earth; the thing we must truly heal is our relationship to ourselves. And how do we do that? We do that through compassion. Compassion not just in the sense of the word, but in the sense of its true expansive, beyond reasonable nature. Compassion in the form of forgiveness.

Before I continue, I want to say that I was initially wary of that word forgiveness. It’s something that they talk about a lot in church, synagogue and self-help books, and sometimes it sounds cheesy. But the more I think about it, the more I think about forgiveness simply as not fighting. I think that at the deepest core of every challenge we face in life, there’s one challenge, one obstacle, one fight. It’s the fight we fight with ourselves. The true reason behind our stress—small stress like the comments that bug us, the little things we feel guilty about eating, and bigger stress, like our relationships and jobs—is that it touches some core part of us that is vulnerable, insecure, unsure. And so we fight it and then we fight that vulnerability. And then we fight the fact that we are fighting that vulnerability. And soon we are mind-spinning and body-suffering.

This isn’t just about forgiving yourself for big things that happened in the past. It’s not just about forgiving yourself for most things, most of the time. It’s about forgiving yourself for the silly comment you just made, the amount of time you felt you’ve wasted, the fact that you forgot a friend’s birthday. It’s about forgiving ourselves for everything. It’s moment-by-moment, breath-by-breath forgiveness.

This is not an excuse never to learn from our experiences. But we often believe that we can’t forgive, that we should carry guilt, so that we can learn. This is how I used to operate, but it is this type of thinking that dug deep into my gut. In order to heal from years of digestive issues, I have to believe that we can forgive instantly, but still trust that we will learn from our mistakes. Maybe not the first time; we may need to make the mistake again. But, if we approach life with enough awareness, we will learn eventually.

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past will get better.”

We can only go forward.  And bring our selves back to this moment. Over and over again.

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