I often thought myself a fool for forgiving so often because people thought I was naive, or full of self doubt, or even that I had been dishonest about events that I claimed had caused me to separate myself from those I chose to leave behind.
It seems to me when someone such as myself refuses to trouble themselves with self preservation-spawned explanations because my self worth and value don’t rely on outside opinions, people tend to fill in the blanks in my silence with their own assumptions.
Their assumptions are often very wrong.
They see a weakness in my forgiveness because they can’t understand how I could do it.
Until a few years ago I didn’t even understand how I was able to do it.
How is it so easy to forgive?
First I had to understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean I’m unworthy of justice for the harmful things that have been done.
I just don’t have a need to seek retribution for myself.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean things go back to the way they were.
Some broken things can not be fixed.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the bad things didn’t happen.
I remember them clearly. Vividly. Painfully.
Forgiveness is a tool of freedom.
It allows me to empty the tightly packed spaces in my mind and spirit where resentments and anger grow and thrive like bacteria, infecting my consciousness with bitterness and hate.
Bitterness and hate are like poison. They infect my attitude, actions, and mentality. They pour out in words and behaviors on everyone and everything I encounter.
I choose not to allow that type of sickness to live inside of me and I certainly won’t allow myself to harbor it and infect anyone else with it.
Not even by accident in the form of displaced anger.
I don’t forgive because people deserve it. I forgive because I deserve to be happy, joyous, and free.
It helps to see people as they really are.
Making monsters out of men makes the world a scary place.
I don’t believe in bad people and I have never met an evil baby. Most of the “bad” people are just badly broken.
Some will die behaving badly, though.
Some really don’t change.
But I won’t deprive someone the benefit of the doubt.
I won’t deprive someone the opportunity to learn and grow.
They don’t need to do it with me, near me, or at my expense. But I try to avoid an attitude of judgement at all costs.
I was lost once.
I found my “self” was always in me.
That’s the one thing that never leaves and being okay with who I really am is what made the world worth living in and made me worthy to live in it and be a part of all of its beauty.
Some people are never going to be okay with who they are. I won’t make it harder for them by being hateful or holding grudges.
I truly believe most “bad people” are just in pain, in fear, or lost somehow.
Something I picked up in my religious studies is an idea that no one’s life or sense of comfort is more valuable than another’s. This is why I must set limits while helping others so I don’t allow myself to be destroyed because my life and comfort is valuable, too.
I’m really strong, though.
Damn near invincible when it comes to spiritual fortitude.
I also have an incredible sense of who I am and what my value is.
So, forgiveness is easy.
I feel no need to make people like me.
I feel no need to save face.
I feel no need to be vengeful.
I feel no need to repay suffering.
I feel no need to be right in the realm of public opinion.
Forgiveness is easier for those reasons, too.
Religious philosiphies and spiritual teachings often repeat themes throughout centuries and sects.
One of these is that it is an enlightened person’s spiritual responsibility to teach others the path by showing them the way with their actions.
The Dalai Lama said, “We should not seek revenge on those who have committed crimes against us, or reply to their crimes with other crimes. We should reflect that by the laws of Karma, they are in danger of lowly and miserable lives to come, and that our duty to them, as to every being, is to help them rise toward Nirvana rather than sink to lower levels of rebirth.”
So I forgive them for their harms.
I move forward on my journey toward enlightenment, fortified by my good deeds.
I show them kindness.
In my kindness they can breathe for a moment.
In that breath they may find rest or peace.
In that moment of calm their chaotic mind may unfold.
In that clarity they may find the way forward.
I forgive because it is my duty to myself and to the world.
I forgive because it strengthens and soothes my soul in the way that vengeance and anger briefly satisfies some who may not feel connected to their spirit, or their consciousness, or whatever it is that they believe it was that created them.
I forgive because forgiveness is helpful.
I forgive because forgiveness is good.