This I Believe

Jill - Akron, Ohio
Entered on January 27, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: forgiveness

I believe in the importance of forgiveness. I don’t want this seem that I am someone with savior-like compassion, a mixture of Ghandi and Snow White. It is not as if I can’t see the bad in people or the awfulness that exists in the world. Truth be told, I am a pessimist about humans and human nature. We have had over a millennium to create a perfect society and we haven’t made one yet, so I am not holding my breath.

So why do I believe in forgiveness? I believe in forgiveness for all the reasons that everyone always talks about. It is the right thing to do. It is ennobling.

But here is the real reason I value forgiveness. It saves me time and energy. I don’t have to dismiss something or how it makes me feel, but if I stay upset, that means the other person wins.

When I am angry about something someone has done, I take a deep breath and remind myself to forgive. My teeth unclench, my heart cracks open, and tension slides off my body like melted butter.

It is not always easy to forgive people, but the universe offers you many chances to get it right. Just a few days ago, someone called me incompetent, thinking I couldn’t hear him. It cut my confidence to the quick and it made me cry hot tears of frustration. When he found out I had heard his remark, he gave a made up explanation that at best was a half-hearted apology.

I wish I could say I forgave him at that exact moment, but I have not perfected the act of forgiveness. I am working on it. I pushed around a boulder of resentment for a day until I worked it down to a rock that I could hold in two hands. I look forward to a time when that rock of anger shrinks down to the size of a pebble and it slips through my fingers, almost unnoticed.

This experience reminded me of something important. I am not perfect. I am not the forgiveness guru. I experience pride, vanity, and anger just like everyone else. But I can also feel hope. I believe by forgiving others, I can create some small space in my heart where I will find my own forgiveness.