Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Forgiving others

In this life, provided we actually live it and not just float through it, we're bound to get hurt. The more we let someone into our lives, the more they can hurt us. As there is opposition in all things, and we must experience one thing to recognize its opposite, if we want to experience true bliss and happiness at some point, we also need to experience hell and sadness.

In my experience, the times I have felt the most hurt have been because of the actions of another person. I have a very short list of people, okay, guys, who have hurt me so deeply that they are no longer part of my life. Sometimes, I remember the good times I had with them and I miss them so much I feel a different kind of hurt, but it turns out I'm really missing the person they were when I first let them into my life, not the person they turned out to be.

Then, of course, I wonder what I'd do if I ran into them? Would we exchange pleasantries and pretend like nothing ever happened? (Incidentally, for one of these guys, the answer is yes.) Would I really like to just yell and scream and punch them? (Depends on the day, I suppose.)

Regardless of how deep the hurt, or when, or even what, we've been commanded to forgive others. And not just others. Everyone. All people. Even the rude person who cut us off on the freeway that we don't even know. As I mentioned in the beginning, I'm not always very good at it. Not only do I not always forgive very easily, sometimes I don't even want to. I think to myself that this person doesn't even deserve my charity or forgiveness so why should I give it to them? They aren't around anymore, so how would they even know?

They wouldn't, most likely. But I would. And Heavenly Father would.

One of these guys actually emailed me one day to ask me for my forgiveness, whenever I was willing to give it. At the time, it felt compulsory, like I was just a step on his road to repentance, and not a person who he once cared deeply for. He's tried to contact me a couple times since then, but I haven't been ready to let him back in.

Another of the guys has never admitted he did anything wrong.

I do, however, remember the day I forgave the first guy who really, really hurt me. Unlike the other two, we were actually officially dating when the hurt occurred. In fact, we were practically engaged. And then, one warm early summer evening, we weren't anymore.

More than two years later, I was sitting in a Relief Society class, drifting between listening to the lesson and getting lost in my own thoughts. The lesson might have been on repentance or forgiveness, but I don't remember. All I remember is that the thought came to me, clear as day - I forgive That Guy. And I did. I really did. I've never forgotten what happened (down to even the shoes I was wearing that night), but I have forgiven him.

Sometimes I check with myself, when I find myself thinking of him, could I really see him one day and say that I only the best of feelings exist for this person?

Yes, actually, I can.

There would be some nostalgia there. We'd both know that something had happened between us. We'd both know that we'd learned something from that relationship and that we'd both done some things caused it to fail, but that we were okay with that fact that it was over, and that we'd both made peace with the unfortunate way that it ended. Life goes on. I truly recognize certain blessings that have come because I didn't marry him.

The other guys? I'm not sure I'm ready. It's probably too much to ask that I try to forgive them both at the same time, but I should try. As for my attitude of not even wanting to, I can ask Heavenly Father for His help. Before I ask Him to help me forgive these guys, I can ask Him to help me want to.

Additionally, to forgive someone does not mean that I have to let them back into my life as fully as they were before. Because I'm human, I'll never entirely forget. The pain, however, does ease, which I already recognize and am so grateful for.

Finally, I also need to learn to forgive myself more readily. Sometimes that's the hardest one of all. I DO live with myself and see myself all the time. If I've done something stupid that I should forgive myself for, I can't take a break and have a cooling off period. Still, it's absolutely necessary that I forgive my own human failings and remember that I'm imperfect, but that it's totally okay.

Life really does go on. It's nice to know.


Roxie said...

Wonderfully expressed. And it's something I apparently need to think more about too.