Forgiveness is one of those life skills I tend to think I know a lot about.
As in, I think I know how to forgive. I know why it is important and how it can help. I even think I know what it feels like when I have forgiven someone else…or myself.
Except that I don’t. I know this on account of how people I’ve already forgiven keep coming back up in my emotions or thoughts or dreams, and it is quite clear I need to forgiven them again…..or perhaps I never really did forgive them the first (or 40th) time I tried.
This is particularly true when the person was really really really important to me. It is also particularly true when the person I need to forgive is myself. It is harder to forgive people who hurt me or let me down multiple times. And it is even harder to forgive myself for letting them.
Often I try to do this work first thing in the morning during my meditation time. This is a good time because my mind is still relatively clear (or at least still otherwise occupied by the content from the previous night’s dreams and is thus safely distracted). Also, I have more energy in the morning than I do at night, and it can take a lot of energy to forgive.
A few mornings ago an individual popped up – this person had actually made a surprisingly compelling cameo in my dreams the night prior, which was how I knew they needed to be forgiven again.
So I set to work.
I got very busy examining my dream content, attempting to decode the meaning of their appearance and what it was (this time) that remained unresolved between us. As I waited for my aha moment, it didn’t come. I got frustrated. Then I got mad. Then I got madder. As I thought more about the person, the connection, the pain, I began to question if forgiving them was really such a good idea. After all, what they said and did hurt really really bad.
And that was when it suddenly made sense. Love. I had loved this person. I had loved them even though loving them didn’t make sense. In other words, it wasn’t a good idea to love this person for a whole slew of very good reasons. I hadn’t wanted to love them. To this day, I still can’t explain why I loved them or even how I know that I loved them.
Yet….love. There it was, standing there with its arms crossed, blocking my path forward towards forgiveness.
I realized if there hadn’t first been love then, there likely wouldn’t be a need for forgiveness now.
The love was what made the difficult, painful, repeat process of forgiveness finally make sense. It was like my mind needed a REASON – why should I forgive? Well, because LOVE.
There were a lot of bad things, bad memories, bad words, bad thoughts, bad painful feelings that came out of our connection. But underneath it all, there was one good, true, kind, well-meaning thing, and that was love.
Acknowledging that I loved this person, and to the best of my knowledge they loved me, made all the rest of the mess much easier to forgive. Because, of course – love.
Today’s Takeaway: I have no idea if this will make sense to anyone but me. I guess I’m hoping that by writing it out the best I can, trying to explain where love got totally overlooked during my own attempts to forgive myself and someone else, maybe someone else will read this and say, “Oh yes, forgiveness got easier for me too once I remembered that first, there was love.” Could that be you? I’d love to hear your stories and thoughts!