“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” -Ajahn Chah
Here’s a confession: forgiveness has always been a hard thing for me. I tend to not only not be able to forgive, but it’s also hard for me to forget.
I have a list hanging in my room of 9 things to live by on a daily basis. Number 2 is “Forgive all who harm you.” But I can confidently say that reading that is a whole heck of a lot easier than actually implementing it in my life. It’s easy to let go of the anger at the person who cut you off on the road that one time, or the person at the restaurant that bumped into you and didn’t say “I’m sorry.” What I have a hard time with is true, deep forgiveness for those who have truly, deeply hurt me. Not just once but over and over. Someone that maybe I spent a lot of time with who wronged me in ways I couldn’t have even fathomed. Someone who I loved who hurt me. A friend that betrayed me.
I don’t know if it’s because I feel like forgiving them means I’m giving them a pass for the hurt they caused, that I’m letting them “off the hook” or if there’s more to it than that. But at the same time, I completely realize that the old Buddhist saying that “anger is like drinking poison, expecting it to kill the other person” is true. Holding on to any kind of negative feelings not only doesn’t do anything to the other person, it only hurts us and binds us to them more in the process. So why is it so difficult for me?
For one, I often don’t even know where to start with the forgiveness process. Is it as easy as thinking about the person and saying “I forgive you?” Do you have to repeat that over and over until you finally feel like it’s true? I think like anything, it’s a process. It’s not something that can just happen overnight.
I’ve been taking steps over the past year to work on my ability to forgive and thanks to my friend Dustin, the 3 lists I spoke about before have been a great jumping off point for me. Because not only do I have trouble forgiving others, I have a really hard time forgiving myself too. So writing down not only what I feel like I need to forgive of others but writing down what I need to forgive myself for (which often includes letting the aforementioned people hurt me or even letting them into my life to begin with) is incredibly cathartic.
So this is another “To Be Continued” kind of post. I don’t have a definite answer. I can’t even any offer real words of wisdom of my own. I just know that forgiveness is something that’s worth whatever the process may entail to achieve it. It’s one of the strongest things all of us can do in our lives and like the quote I posted at the beginning of this post said, we can only achieve true peace once we let go of all that hurt and let go of those who caused it. And we all deserve not just a little peace, but a lot!