One of the reasons I tell the truth is that I don’t have a good enough memory to be a liar—too many details to get straight and fake storylines to keep in order.
There’s a similar dynamic to forgiving versus holding a grudge. I try to forgive because my emotional capacity is just not big enough to accommodate constant anger while I’ve got stuff to do.
1. It’s true that my forgiveness can grant a certain freedom to the person I’m forgiving. I’m not saying that what she did or said was okay; I’m not saying that there isn’t blame or wrongdoing. But I’m letting go of whatever she said or did. And we all know that it’s much easier to change and grow when we’re not in the presence of anger and condemnation. If I really want someone to change her ways, forgiveness might actually help with that. As long as I’m criticizing and blaming her, she will be in defensive mode, and there will be no forward movement.
2. It’s even truer that my forgiveness can free me to get on with what my life should be about. Trying to grow and evolve and do good work in the world while hauling around a soul full of anger and resentment is like trying to do a healthy run while carrying weights on shoulders, arms, and legs. Anger and simmering hurt take up a lot of space in my interior self, and they don’t leave much room for all the other good things that should be there, such as creativity, generosity, humor, wisdom, and thriving friendship.
3. When we learn to forgive on an individual basis, it might just help the society around us incorporate forgiveness in its policies. A nation full of individuals who value spiritual freedom and thus who practice forgiveness is a nation less likely to try to solve every problem with military force. Such a nation might cultivate leaders who value healthy relationships over domination and oppression. This is an idealistic goal, but we have to start somewhere. So I need to forgive this person, this day, if I hope to live in a world where mercy liberates not just one or two people, but many.
Why do you choose forgiveness? What have you learned about this aspect of spiritual growth?