I ripped the neatly written ‘YOU’RE INVITED’ card into tiny scraps and stuffed them into the bottom of my book bag. While the rest of the class busied themselves with work, my laughing eyes were reflected in three other pairs of eyes staring curiously back at me. I was invited to a birthday party of a girl who was not as popular as my three best friends and I were, and I thought that it would be funny to shred the invitation to show that I would not dare go to the party. The girls understood this secret defiance and giggled silently in their desks.
Later that night as I took books out of my book bag, pieces of the invitation floated slowly to the floor. I no longer felt the pride and sense of accomplishment that I had felt earlier that day for making fun of someone else, and instead, a wave of guilt washed over me. The tears of embarrassment and regret burned down my cheeks as I told my mom the story. The next day, as part of my punishment, my mom wanted me to apologize to the girl. After my explanation and apology, the girl’s simple smile felt like a sword, and I thought that she would not be able to forgive me. She sighed and said, “It’s okay, Allie. I forgive you. I’ll just make another invitation.”
The way she so easily forgave me made me realize that I believe in the power of three simple words. I forgive you made all the difference. I felt like she had given me a second chance even though the way I had treated her did not deserve one. I did not want to be a person who tore others down to make myself feel better. The feeling of being forgiven was refreshing, and I wanted other people to feel the same way. Forgiving, however, is not always as easy as being forgiven. It takes strength and the ability to let go of anger against someone or something. Once I have forgiven someone, as hard as it might be sometimes, it is as if a burden has been lifted from me. It takes energy to be mad at someone or hold a grudge against them, and after I forgive, I am relieved of the anger and stress. Keeping resentment against someone is only hurting myself in the end. Those three special words comfort me when I am the receiver with thankfulness and relief or when I am the giver with compassion and understanding.
I believe in forgiving but not forgetting. I want to remember the times that I hear “I forgive you” to keep as a reminder of mistakes not to repeat. I want to remember the peace that I have with myself and with others when I forgive or am forgiven. Three words that allowed me to go to a party also changed my outlook on life.
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