Most of us have a bulging sack over our shoulder labelled: “Bad Things People Have Done to Me”.
The longer we live, the bigger and heavier the sack gets. Our backs become bowed and our arms ache from holding it in place, but there’s no way we’re going to part with it. We even take it to bed, where it snuggles lumpily beside us, imparting recurring nightmares and restlessness, as the moon traces its peaceful course overhead.
What can we do to release ourselves from this irksome burden?
One word: Forgive.
I’m not going to do an etymological search on this word. I’m just going to look at it and draw simple conclusions.
For – probably derived from ‘fore’ – meaning ‘first’. Give – extend to, hand over, gift something.
So, for my purpose, forgive means to give something first. To give something before something else has happened. (Forgiveness is given before apology or recompense is given.)
When we hear the word forgiveness our minds leap into religious mode. We take on a pious appearance – lowered eyelids, slightly pinched lips, head gently bowed.
‘Ah, yes, forgiveness. I should do more of that,’ we think, then take a firmer grip on our sack of resentments and move on. And each day adds to that tiresome weight on our shoulders.
Recent occurrences that I could easily put in the sack over my shoulder: the rascal who cut in on me on the highway, almost causing a crash; the rogue who sent me a bank scam link; the scoundrel who saw me leave my red purse at the checkout counter and took it instead of handing it back.
Forgiving is letting go of things you can’t change. I can blast the horn but that won’t change a person’s impatience. I can’t trace the scammer, and don’t have psychic powers to track down the crook spending the two fifty-dollar bills stashed in the bottom corner of that purse.
I can’t make those people sorry. I can’t make them repent. The cycle of life will do that.
My pragmatic, long-dead grandmother, who wore crimson lipstick and smoked like a bush fire, would say: “Don’t get your knickers in a twist, Marlane.” That’s exactly what I’m doing if I don’t make forgiveness a daily occurrence in my life.
Forgiving and moving on sets me free from a pointless sack that burdens no one but myself.
Eckhart Tolle wrote in The Power of Now:
Forgiveness is to relinquish your grievance and so to let go of grief.
Forgiveness is to offer no resistance to life – to allow life to live through you. The alternatives are pain and suffering, a greatly restricted flow of life energy, and in many cases physical disease.
Living with mindfulness
Watch for moments to arise when you can forgive.
Forgiving isn’t a religious act.
It’s a life-giving force.
Forgiveness re-balances your life.
It sets you free.
With love, Marlane
First published on Medium.com/Illumination