Monday, February 4, 2013

Forgiveness: Part II

There are people in your life who’ve come and gone. They let you down and hurt your pride.
Better put it all behind you; life goes on. You keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you inside.
I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak.
And my thoughts seem to scatter, but I think it’s about forgiveness.
Forgiveness, even if…even if you don’t love me anymore.
-Don Henley, Heart ofthe Matter

In my last post, I wrote about our potential for forgiveness. I explained a method I read about that included—you know what? I’m not going to rehash it. If you want to know about how the process works, scroll your lazy fingers down three inches and you can read my previous post.

So I wrote the first letter and addressed it to the person I’ve been convinced owed me some major apologies. I unleashed some emotions I’ve held in and tried to pretend didn’t exist. I went so nuts, I decided against my original plan to post the letter here.

I waited two days. Then I set up a throwaway email account in this person’s name (stalker) and wrote a letter of apology back to myself. I thought I would write all the things this person owes me, complete with him down on figurative knee, begging for my forgiveness. But it didn’t happen that way.

The letter started out pretty strong, and I created a pretty douchey persona for this guy. But after about four sentences I ran out of ways to self-deprecate the dude. What happened next surprised me. I started thinking from this his point of view, and it got harder and harder for me to keep justifying all the apologies. I started to empathize with my nemesis and understand where he was coming from. Horrible!

I put an electronic signature for this person at the bottom of the email and actually emailed it to my email address. Yeah, I did that. Who sounds like the psychopath now?

I waited two more days, and pulled up the email to read it. Even though I knew I wrote it, even though I knew it was all a hoax, and even though it was totally written in my style…I was fooled. It made me more emotional than I anticipated. And here’s the Oprah Winfrey moment: my animosity was fading. I tried to make the anger and hate come, but they wouldn’t.

Maybe that’s what life is about. Too often we get caught up in spending our lives worrying about what we should not do, and spend more of our time focusing on what we can become. Every day should be spent doing quadruple backflips and shouting for joy that the sun didn’t explode and we have just the right mix of oxygen and nitrogen in Earth's atmosphere. Each person is just as fleeting and insignificant as I am, and therefore, just as valuable, fragile and worthwhile.

How can I leave any room in my life for something as useless as enmity toward others? Doesn’t it seem accurate that this has been weighing much heavier on me than it ever did on my so-called offender? He doesn’t deserve my hostility, and I don’t need those feelings cluttering up my good times. 

The trick worked, I forgave the person whose actions have been eating away at my inside's for years. And yet now I wonder, who really needs that forgiveness, me or him? 

Some people believe we are here to be more like God. Some believe we are on an eternal journey to achieve perfect balance and harmony with the universe. Others simply believe we should do our best to develop perfect humanity during this brief life before we fade to stardust.

Alexander Pope said forgiveness is divine. I don’t know, but I think Henley said it even better. The ability to forgive even after we’ve all moved on and it doesn’t matter and the feelings are gone. Forgiveness, even if you don’t love me anymore. Now that is divine. 

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