I believe forgiveness is essential to healing a broken heart. After all, don’t we carry fragments of memories and experiences with us throughout our journeys? It took me years to figure out why I was so angry and disappointed with myself; I allowed the words and actions of others – however deliberate or accidental, to define me. It was as if I grew into their impressions of me.
A childhood friend of mine once said, “You know, you would be so pretty if you were white.” I agreed, not thinking twice that perhaps she may be wrong. I was 10 years old. It would be another 10 years before I would revisit that conversation and finally forgive her for being racist. I know I am beautiful. My four-year-old daughter confirms it everyday when I look into her lovely eyes.
Throughout the years, I have quietly forgiven countless people: family, friends, co-workers and strangers. Some for trivial things, like allowing a door to slam in my face or not stopping to ask if I was hurt when I tripped over my new heels; small things that I would never overlook had the tables been turned. In the end, the little things speak volumes about our integrity and character.
I have forgiven others for larger things – the kind of gaffes that affect our lives and wreak havoc with our minds and hearts. After all, have we all not encountered those people in our lives? You know, the girls in school who smiled too little and gossiped too much, or the co-workers who would rather bury themselves in stalling your career than their work, the family who claimed happiness for your successes but spoke only of your losses. Then there were the partners who loved you behind closed doors but dare not open the doors to a future with you; the friends who loved you when your hand was always extended with invitations, but who forgot your phone number when your hand was busy trying to hold yourself up.
I found in order to move forward, I had to let go of the hurt of the past. I had to swallow the bitterest pills in order savor the sweetest of moments. And, there were many to come that would not have been as meaningful, if I were still clinging to the pains of yesterday. I would not have fallen as deeply in love with my husband if I were still wallowing in that first broken heart. I would not know respect for him as a dedicated father if I did not forgive my own father for his mistakes; after all, do we not learn first how to love from our parents? I would not know the depths of unconditional love if I did not embrace motherhood with both arms extended and on bended knees.
Some may say forgiveness is a sign of weakness because it is acknowledging a wrong and allowing it to slip away without consequence. However, to hold on to those wrongs is to deny myself the ability to love and experience life without reservations. You cannot see what lies ahead if your path is overcast with the dark clouds of yesterday.
I have learned that forgiveness is a gift we can choose to give and if we are fortunate, receive in kind.
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