We often hear that when we forgive someone for hurting us, we are really giving a gift to ourselves. When I trade in hurt and anger for forgiveness, I discover a deep peace and freedom. I’m no longer carrying around that resentment which has been chewing on me, and my world feels a little bit better. But if you’ve ever been the one who did the offending, the one who inflicted the wound (and who hasn’t?) and yet been forgiven, then you know what a great gift it is to be on the receiving end of that trade. So I think it works both ways – forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves and to others. We all get hurt in life, and we all hurt others because we’re all flawed human beings. When we extend forgiveness, it’s a mutual exchange of mercy, and everybody receives.
“But what if I’m not ready to forgive?” I can hear the question rising up in your throat as you read this. Forgiveness is not an event. It’s not a quick snap-of-our- fingers fix. It’s a process, and it can take time. But consider this idea. What if we think of forgiveness as a place? A place we know exists even if it is far away, and in order to get there, all we have to do to begin the journey is open the door a tad. Maybe peek out, maybe not. We go back to our coffee, to our laptops, to whatever it is we do, but the door’s been opened. When we’re ready, we open the door a little more. And then one day, we take a step. And then another. We pass a speed limit sign which says “As fast or as slow as you need to go.” We take a few more steps. We pass a destination sign which say “Forgiveness – As close or as far as you need it to be.”
Over time, we find we think less and less about the offense and that our baggage of hurt and anger starts to grow wings as it gets lighter and lighter. We’re moving towards this place called Forgiveness, and the journey is not nearly as painful as we thought it would be. So what do we do? We keep going.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there. ~Rumi, 13th Century Sufi Mystic