Curiously, forgiveness and stress have something in common: In order to successfully navigate either of them you have to be willing to let go.
With stress, you have to understand that while being proactive has its merits, there are just some situations that are beyond your control. Sometimes you have to let go of the situation/problem/stressor in order to regain your own composure.
With forgiveness, you’ve got to let go of that petty sense of self-righteousness, your fears and that unhealthy notion that somehow you’re “punishing” whoever hurt you by not forgiving them.
Day 4’s task was to forgive someone, to release my grip on the memory I have of them hurting me. I’d like to say that I made some significant strides in forgiving people today. That I forgave exes and former friends. That I’ve successfully reconnected with people I’d severed ties with long ago.
But that so didn’t happen. I’m no saint. And this ain’t a segment on some sappy Oprah/Dr. Phil/Ricki Lake talk-show.
Like everything else I’ve done in this project, today’s task is going to take baby steps. Admittedly, I’m a bit stubborn when it comes to forgiveness. The main thing that often prevents me from doing it, is that I worry that forgiveness gives others and myself permission to make the same mistakes over and over again. When I worry like that, I often wonder: How can I guarantee that I won’t get hurt again/or that I won’t make that same mistake again if I let go and forget what happened?
There’s a part of me that thinks having that sense of control, that firm grip on my grudge will prevent me from being hurt again. But it’s that stubborn grip that’s holding me back from being happy. But I’m not preventing anything from happening; I’m just punishing myself while life goes on around me. And life does go on. Whether you decide to let go of the pain to enjoy it or not– Life goes on. With or without you.
What I’ve learned today is that I need to remember that we all benefit from forgiveness everyday: from God, from our friends and from our families. Forgiveness and the love and compassion that comes with it, allows us to keep going, to not shut down in defeat after every mistake. Forgiveness allows us to learn and grow as people. It’s how we get better. It’s the only way we get better.
So today, I’ve decided to pursue forgiveness a little at a time. Tonight, I forgave a family member for a small annoyance that seems pretty silly now. I took a deep breath and tried to remember how much that person really means to me and let go of the tension.
Beyond this 14-day project, I intend to keep forgiving a little at a time, and hopefully I’ll work my way up from brushing off petty squabbles with acquaintances to being able to forgive those whose mistakes have deeply hurt me.
As always, I hope you enjoyed this post. Don’t hesitate to let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your opinions, questions and stories!
I’d also like to thank SELF Magazine for posting the article,“14 Days to a Happier, Healthier You!” , which inspired this blog post.
Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a lovely day!