Day 14: Practice Forgiveness
La Niña has a little cache, a little drawer where she stores everything that is of importance to her. These items include broken beads, trinkets, little pictures, loose sheets of paper on which her teacher has commended her school work by awarding her a star or by writing GOOD in big, bold letters. There's lots of treasure there, all pleasing in her eyes.
The Husband and I rib her gently about all the items she collects, and she retorts, in defence of her trove, "Don't you collect things you shouldn't?" And it is with a start that I begin to admit that there is some truth to what she says.
For a long time, I nursed hurts and rejection that had been dished out to me back when I was a little schoolgirl. A teacher who said something that dented my self-esteem, a classmate that poked fun at me because of something I didn't have.
Later there were other people who added themselves to the list (or did I add them?). Family members, friends, acquaintances. There was a brief phase when it seems anyone could annoy me. I had turned into an Angry Young Woman, storing up hurts, and getting a certain, strange keen pleasure out of thinking of the number of times I had been hurt or rejected, insulted or humiliated.
There came a time when it became difficult to lug around all that resentment, and I realised that holding grudges wasn't hurting anyone else but me.
It wasn't a short road from that realisation to forgiving all those people.
With each act of praying for the other person, I found it easier to let go.
With each act of letting go, I was reminded of the times when I would have needed forgiveness too.
I realised that the act of forgiving someone requires courage and strength. To allow a hurt to no longer control our lives. To see beyond it to the goodness of the person. To give the person another chance.
I realise that forgiveness is not a one-time thing. To be truly meaningful, it has to become an attitude.
Only then will it bring us healing from the pain.
Otherwise it is like carrying an unnecessary burden all through our lives, even as our backs bend with the pain, and the worry lines etch deeper into our faces and our hearts.