What makes you truly angry? How do you handle this emotion?
Our societies tend to avoid anger. Do you? What can anger accomplish? anything?
Closing Statement from Debra Smith
Life is an adventure in forgiveness.
Norman Cousins- US editor & essayist (1915 - 1990)
I believe that learning to forgive is the Masters class in being human. It is a central lesson in Christianity and although I have not studied the others to the same depth, I assume it is central to most of the others as well.
Forgiving others starts in small ways. A child learns to forgive the bumps and bruises of playground play in order to keep their playmates. Those who cannot end up in the sand box alone. As life progresses we must learn to forgive the social injuries that come of dealing with people at all stages of their development and spiritual growth (spiritual not in a religious sense but meaning their inner set of guiding principles). High school is particularly tough for many because the pecking order and the sharp beaks of the chickens and the hard fists of those feeling the power flow through their muscles for the first time. Forgiving and remembering where the traps lie is often the only route through those years where many feel like prey.
We graduate highschool and our hormones settle in for adult life and still we find forgiveness is a necessary tool. I remember once in graduate school taking a course where I had helped a woman extensively with notes and free tutoring. One day, before class, I walked up to join this woman (who was a lab helper at the University) and my prof in conversation. I stood back just a bit waiting for acknowledgement to join the conversation and caught the prof's eye. Then I overheard the woman that I had helped so extensively denegrading me. It was only when I turned to leave that she realized I was there and later joined me to lie and say that she had been telling him wonderful things about me. It was then, for the first time in my life, that I really learned to forgive in a way that relieved me and was not just a 'right thing to do'.
I came up with a cognitive pretend that helped me so much. I pretended to pick that woman up and place her in China, leaving a spot open in my life for someone new. I reasoned that there were a billion wonderful people in China that I would never get the chance to meet thus I was putting her in a category of unmet people. From that moment on, I could interact with her as though I had never met her before. I could easily treat her with the kindness and politeness that I would treat a person I had just met (but with none of the interest that would allow her into my life). This was a massive break through for me.
That worked well for peripheral relationships of my life but what about those closest to me/ Love covers a multitude of sins but when love dies the forgiveness from the heart is the thing that is needed. It took a new brand or depth of forgiveness after my divorce but I have made it - for real. I have never understood how people who once loved each other could allow it to devolve into hatred. I loved a man for almost 30 years of my life and now he is just the father of my children but it was a process. Now I can even acknowledge his wisdom in diagnosing that the marriage was over.
Now, I face a hillarious challenge. I am planning to go to China for at least a year in the near future. I can't help but wonder if the universe will rotate so that I have to now deal with all those sorts of personalities that I had trouble with in the past when I pretended to move them to China? My own spiritual development often has me repeat lessons until I get them right. So, among the lovely and beautiful people there in China, I have braced myself to be ready to grow again in the lessons of forgiveness that I yet need.
And I also know that the hardest part of forgiveness is to learn to forgive ourselves for foibles, brokenness and all. Here's to the journey and the lessons!