Yesterday, I was at a food co-op (always about food for me!) and I saw a woman push her way past a much older person – actually to the point where the older woman had to hold on to the shelf not to fall over. I quickly ran over to her and asked if I could help. I was so angry with the other woman that I wanted to go over to where she was waiting in line and provide her with my list of my most important words!
The older woman could tell I was very angry and upset. She touched my arm and gave me a knowing look. She reminded me that we can’t control what other people do, but we can control how we react. She said she wasn’t angry because she practices “forgiveness.” (I didn’t know it was a practice?!). She told me that resentment should have no place or power in our lives. We just don’t know what other people are going through. Maybe this woman was in a hurry to get to an ill relative. Maybe she just lost her job or her husband.
At this point, I suggested that there is no excuse for that kind of behavior — even if she found her husband having sex with someone else and was upset (Sorry kids. I do talk about sex even with strangers!). As I was getting ready to walk away and finish shopping, the “other” woman started coming toward us. I stepped in front of my new friend, as if to protect her. What the h*** was going to happen now?
The “other” woman immediately apologized. She said her son was home by himself – his first time – and she was nervous and wanted to get home as quickly as she could. She admitted she should have been more careful. She asked if she could help my new friend in any way … my new friend smiled at me as if she knew this was going to be the outcome. Wow.
I try not to hold onto something for too long if my feelings are hurt (no eye rolling here). But real forgiveness is more difficult because you have to let go of resentment and your hurt feelings. Double whammy.
Often we don’t want to forgive because if feels like we are forgetting the wrong and we don’t want to condone the other person’s conduct. But, forgiveness doesn’t have to mean reconciliation with the person who hurt you. It is finding our own inner peace and learning to let go and blame less and less.
Let’s be honest – forgiveness is the best gift you can give yourself. It allows you to take down the walls built up from years of anger and reinforced by negativity. And once you do, you’ll begin to feel free from the dark hold of those feelings.