|Photo is "Headache" by Lel4nd|
I recently caught the following quote on The Purpose Fairy website.
"Forgiveness is the most powerful thing that you can do for your physiology and your spirituality, and it remains one of the least attractive things to us, largely because our egos rule so unequivocally. To forgive is somehow associated with saying that is all right, that we accept the evil deed. But this is not forgiveness. Forgiveness means that you will fill yourself with love and you radiate that love outward and refuse to hang onto the venom or hatred that was engendered by the behaviors that caused the wounds." –Wayne Dyer
This was my first time seeing this definition of forgiveness from Wayne Dyer, but I've lived by a similar meaning of forgiveness for the last 7 years. I was raised in the church where we are taught to "turn on the other cheek" and "forgive them that trespass against us." But what does forgiveness really mean? The way I interpreted forgiveness from many pastors' sermons was to give the person or people who hurt you a pass and move on with your life. Let go and let God handle them. No matter how horrible the action, they are still your brother or sister. I even remember hearing one pastor say to women who were sexually abused that they should forgive their abusers. I know the pastor meant well, but how can you give a pass to rape? Where's the part in the sermon about how to deal with the pain in addition to praying? There has to be more to forgiveness than just moving on.
This forgiveness theory didn't sit well with me, especially after a relative stabbed me in the back my senior year in high school. Not only did the person stab me in the back, they turned the knife a few times and dabbed the wound with hot sauce and sea salt. For the sake of drama-free holiday dinners, I won't go into details of what this adult relative did to me (they did not physically harm me). Still, someone I respected and loved let me down hard. So I was just supposed to give them a fist-bump and tell them I love them and keep it moving?
Oprah Winfrey said on her show in 2011, "Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been different." Such an eye-opener for me. Her words help me release the remaining animosity I had toward an ex-boyfriend. Remember Toni Braxton's song, "Love Should Have Brought You Home"? Well, I lived it. My ex broke my heart, ran over the pieces with a tractor and sent the debris flying in the air with a leaf blower. He stood me up on, what was supposed to be, a romantic getaway. He had a blast in the city with God knows who, while I sat in my hotel room waiting for him to return and answer my phone calls. Under traditional definitions of forgiveness I learned, I'm supposed to tell my ex, "It's all good and I forgive you." I knew I shouldn't have gone on that trip because we were having problems. After the fiasco I thought, "How could he and why? Damn, I should have listened to my gut and stayed home." But when I heard Oprah's idea of forgiveness," I recognized that there was nothing I could do. I was angry at him and rightfully so. It happened and I couldn't travel back in time. I accepted the past. I learned to listen to my intuition, and then I evicted him from my mind.
So forgiveness is letting go, but not forgetting. Forgiveness is taking a bad situation and figuring out a way to apply it to your benefit. Forgiveness is not a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. Forgiveness may take some time and is not easy. Forgiveness is living your life and not allowing someone to occupy your mental space or waste any precious second you have left on this planet. And when they do come into your mental space, remember you're turning that negative experience into something that can benefit you or help others. Again, Wayne Dyer adds to my philosophy so beautifully,
"Forgiveness means that you will fill yourself with love and you radiate that love outward and refuse to hang onto the venom or hatred that was engendered by the behaviors that caused the wounds."
And that's how I forgive those that trespass against me.
**One more to add:
"Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting it to kill your enemies."