Over my lifetime, I am fully aware that I have done things or said things I wish I hadn’t. I have directly hurt people and I have indirectly hurt people. I have not behaved in a way that I was always proud of. I have not been as eloquent with my words when the bottom was falling out of my life. I may have seemed or sounded harsh when in fact I had forty other issues going on and I snapped. I have raised my voice in situations where I should have either walked away or shut up. I have not always loved my neighbors as myself. I have fallen completely short on way too many fronts to even name them all, and I wish I could have a “do over”. I have learned a lot about myself and who I am called to be. In the last 4-5 years many have seen the progression of this journey, and many haven’t been around to notice. I think that if you have stuck around, you will admit that I am a different person than I used to be; in many, many ways. I used to want to fit in with a group or two, like most everyone wants to, so I would often times find myself sacrificing who I was to fit in. Truth is, I never did fit in nor was I ever going to. The harsh reality of life is that you are only going to completely fit in if you can provide something that someone needs from you. That is a whole different subject. I have given and forgiven because that is who I am. Forgiveness feels better to me than a grudge.
I have also been on the receiving end of things that hurt and feel bad and I try to remember that maybe that person is having a tough time or going through extremely personal things that no one knows about. Maybe they weren’t able to keep it together for a few seconds. Maybe their frustration seeped out into other areas of their life, that really has nothing to do with you at all, or whatever the case may be! Whatever it is, as a general rule, I don’t hold a grudge for that. But there are many who do. Not only do they harbor grudges but they rip you up to anyone who will listen. At one time in my life I was guilty of the same thing. I have done my level best to improve this particular habit and I encourage others to do the same. It is so easy to fall into the bash session, that we forget how badly words can hurt. Joel Osteen made a comment once that really resonated with me. He said “If you hear a word against your neighbor, let it die within you.” Religious or not doesn’t matter, but this is a quote I remind myself of all of the time. Recently I found out that someone who I scarcely know has an issue with me over something that happened over five years ago. None of it directly affected her, but she has done her level best to smear me and influence people to dislike me and then take it out on my family other ways. I won’t go into detail about what happened but I will say that it truly had nothing to do directly with her. In fact, I never even gave this person a second thought, ever! Unfortunately, she has made it her goal to make sure people think that I am/was horrible. I forgive her for that. I forgive me for losing my temper over the situation all those years ago. For the life of me I really couldn’t imagine that I was so important that to this day she feels the need to discuss me! I must have had a larger influence than I thought. The really sad part is that I actually think I would like her outside of that situation. I know that my feelings were hurt for an hour or two and then I decided that this is a blog worthy story. It isn’t a story about who I was…..it is a story about allowing people to be better, to do better, and forgiveness. I don’t remember all of the details of that encounter, but I remember the timing of it. I know that there was a lot going on that no one ever knew. That is life. We aren’t supposed to stay angry or “grudge mental” for five years or longer. If you are that mad at me, at least let me have it and move along! Don’t keep throwing knives!!
I was thinking about what forgiveness really means to me. It doesn’t mean that I forget what happened. It doesn’t mean that in some situations I will return to let you beat me up again. It doesn’t mean that I have to spend time with people who have wronged me and they don’t have to with me if I wronged them. It doesn’t mean that I have to have any contact at all I guess. What it does mean is that forgiving them means that I won’t keep count or a mental record of the things of the past. I have said many times that I have an uncanny ability to forget things that hurt. I don’t want to recall details that are painful. I don’t I forget when I was guilty of hurting someone, because I tend to carry my guilt in a bag wherever I go. I have a conscience that would rival a penitent Catholic laced with good Jewish guilt of feeling guilty for not feeling guilty. I am acknowledging my short comings very publicly. It isn’t easy; nor is it easy to sit and think about all of the times I intentionally said mean things, did things I’m not proud of , or list my offenses. It brings me sadness and often times shame. So if I have offended you, will you forgive me or will you continue to say hateful things about me, my family, or my business? If I have offended you part of me would ask that you talk to me and I could apologize where I need to and maybe you might see a side of me that I never showed you. I will forgive anyway, and I will continue to try to do better. I am a sinner in a sinful world and this I know all too well. But hey, no one is perfect…..if you think you have no qualms against someone, think again…..it’s human nature. That doesn’t mean that you get to continue to be unkind. Give it a chance you will see that it feels better, way better….
until then….you do you…..I will keep working on me….I forgive