Forgiveness is a huge theme in all of our lives. We are constantly hearing about it and the value that it brings. Whether for others or from others, it’s all about the power it holds.
The thing about forgiving, though, is that it’s really not about other people. It’s about you. It’s about how you it makes you feel and what it does for you. If someone does you wrong, they might not necessarily deserve forgiveness. The world is full of some awful people who wake up every morning and do awful things. They did them yesterday. They’re doing them today. They have plans to do them tomorrow. Those people don’t deserve forgiveness.
And it’s not your responsibility to give them that forgiveness. In many cases, they don’t even value it anyway. They will see it as sign of weakness or a sense of validation for their own wicked ways. You waste your breath and energy on someone who has shown you that they aren’t worth your breath or energy. That’s not what forgiveness is for.
When it comes to a situation like that, forgiveness is for you. It’s to let go of that resentment and set it free. Whether it’s because hate is a poison you swallow hoping your enemy dies or you shouldn’t allow them to live rent free in your head or a million other clichés that say the same thing, those people don’t deserve your anger. They don’t deserve your rage. They don’t deserve any of your emotions. Granting them forgiveness is how you take that away from them. If you don’t feel it, though, don’t give it. You shouldn’t have to and, if you’re still holding on to a grudge, you hold on. Don’t let it go. It’ s yours. No one can take that away from you unless you want to. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you won’t relinquish your grip either. Keep it.
It also doesn’t come from other people. Being forgiven means nothing. As is the case when you forgive others, the same thing happens when others forgive you. Some do it as a verbal middle finger while others might truly want to let bygones be bygones. Overall, though, it’s just a series of words. Sometimes they aren’t worth the air those words float on as they fly from someone’s mouth.
Sometimes someone will forgive you and then, a week later, bring that thing up again. Suddenly the car door you dented or that promise you broke are back in the conversation. You point out that you were just forgiven and they admit, “Well, I didn’t meant it!” Pointless.
You know the only time forgiveness matters? When you forgive yourself. We talk about that one a lot too. We say that it’s important to let go of the anger you might harbor on the inside and let all your shortcomings go. Whatever you did and whenever you did it, it has to go away.
Maybe you beat yourself up for losing touch with a friend over nothing. Your on-again, off-again communication bred a sense of simmering resentment that you never could put to music, but you danced around each time you spoke. Something was off and, as time went on, it just stayed off. Whether you stopped calling or they stopped calling, eventually you both stopped calling. Years went by and you told yourself that one day you would pick that phone up and you two could iron out whatever unspoken issue was still rattling around from decades gone by.
Then, before that could happen, they died.
Gone. Taken. Over. Now the one-day we’ll talk scenario is erased, just like all those messages you never left. You try to make it right. You talk to him in your head. You shout things out loud while driving alone in your car. You’re still mad about all you were mad about, but now mad at yourself for being mad. This isn’t a dialogue. It’s a monologue, so the only one at fault is you. You wish you could just apologize and get that forgiveness that you never got when they were alive, but it doesn’t come. It never will. It’s not the same. It isn’t real.
At that point, you realize he can’t forgive you anymore. He’s gone. Now that’s just on you. You have to forgive you. You’re the only one who can let go of the pain you feel and pry that responsibility from the hands of a ghost. Dead men don’t forgive. That’s something that only the living can do.
There is forgiveness that goes even beyond that. You might need to forgive yourself for wasted time and shattered potential. Sand you watched fall from your hourglass for no reason other than to pass and all that you could have done during those days, but didn’t. Years you spent living a life that wasn’t yours and so much that could have been different. You failed to be who you know you should be and, deep down, you say, “I don’t know if I can forgive myself for that.”
You can. You should. That’s the most important forgiveness there is. It’s about letting things go and moving forward. Until you allow yourself that, you never can. That comes from within. You don’t get that closure from the forked tongue of a frenemy or the pledge book of a long-passed memory. You get that from you. In the end, you’re the only one who forgives yourself and it’s the hardest forgiveness to give.
I want to end this by saying “I forgive myself”, but I’m never truly sure if I have or I can. I know I try to. Every day. That’s the only way to move forward and, the more I move forward, the better aa person I can be. And maybe, if the person I am today can’t grant that forgiveness, maybe that person I become one day will.
(JG Note: For those who don’t know, I am the new Breaking News Analyst and a writer at BabyGaga.com, a site dedicated to pregnancy and new parents. From research studies to Chrissy Teigan, I’ve been covering it all. Please check it out and bookmark my author’s page at this link to see everything that I have been working on.)