I have read a great deal from all manner of clergy about their views on God. A very common theme that comes across loudly is that we are here to learn how to love, fully and completely. That means to turn the other cheek when someone is being cruel or hurtful. It means to forgive. I like to believe I am a loving person blessed with a forgiving nature. That’s what I like to believe but sometimes it can be a struggle.
Life is often like a bumpy road filled with seen and unseen obstacles. Some obstacles appear suddenly like pointy stalagmites, warning you of their danger by their appearance. Most of us know walk away from such recognizable calamity. Others are far less obvious, even attractive, drawing you to them. They are the most dangerous because they use their charms to draw you to them, hiding their sharp edges until you are cut, bleeding and confused as to how that could have happened. That’s where I run into trouble.
I’m good at taking care of myself. I am not easily sucker-punched. I have very clear boundaries and I know how to say “No.” I’m not good about keeping my nose out of other people’s troubles. I have some weird Zorro complex – I was born to jump in and fight other people’s battles when they can’t seem to do so for themselves. I bristle at unfairness or people taking advantage of those who are too soft, too scared, and too insecure to stand up and fight back. Dial 1-800-Monica and I will charge in and argue your case until you back down or walk away.
But when it comes to my own skirmishes, as I said, I’ve got that covered and when all is said and done, I forgive and I even forget. I like giving people second chances. I make mistakes too and hope that I can be forgiven.
I have read Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. They are:
Be impeccable with your word.
Don’t take anything personally.
Don’t make assumptions.
Always do your best.
I am pretty okay with 1 and 4. Numbers 2 and 3 are far harder. It’s not the big dust ups, it’s the little slights, the passive aggressive pinpricks that leave me scalded and not so forgiving. They are not battle worthy. They are subtle and possibly in my head and not real, or are they? I don’t want to take things personally or make assumptions but yet… I sometimes still do. And what I’m left with is a small hard little walnut-sized cluster of tightness filled with something inflexible and constricting. That thing, small as is, could be toxic and may as well be poisonous. To hold onto resentment or rage or any ill will even if it’s… especially if it’s directed towards someone else, will shut down the pathway to love. I have learned that those feelings live inside us and only cause self-destruction. I feel them gnawing away at my organs and my soul. They take up valuable space that could be used for far more loving thoughts which manifest in generosity and joy, rippling outwards spreading even greater good.
Now when I feel a snub or even a twinge of judgment, instead of hardening my heart, I soften it and try to think about what’s going on emotionally with my nemesis. What hurt are they struggling with that makes them lash out or begrudge someone else’s happiness? As difficult as it is to let go of self-righteous indignation, I know once I put myself in their shoes, I can feel that they are in a dark place. I believe they are in pain and what they need far more than an angry, dismissive or superior response from me is an opening that will allow them to bare their soul, their grief, their anger. They need a safe place to share their troubles and then they need to be loved. The benefits are immediate for both giver and receiver. That’s the pathway to exchanging dark thoughts to light.
Before we can forgive anyone else, we also must learn to forgive ourselves when we screw up. We need to love ourselves before we can truly love and be loved by another. And for me, I am still working on being a success at number 2 and number 3.