Looking back on 2018, there is one word that keeps popping up for me: forgiveness. It’s for this reason I’ve chosen forgiveness as my word of the year for 2019. Let me explain: I sometimes do New Year’s resolutions, and I am usually pretty successful with them, although I have trouble following through with some, too. I’ve given up things, taken on things, made goals, and dreamed big. I still like resolutions and think they can be good. The thing is, this year I wanted to change my thinking, not just my pant size or my savings account.
I decided I need a word to whisper in my heart every morning as I start my day, a word I can carry with me every day, all year long.
Don’t get me wrong; I am usually easy to forgive and I don’t hold a grudge, especially for the little things. I find it very easy to forgive little offenses, accidents, and anything for which I see true remorse. If someone is genuinely sorry, then I can easily move on. When my kids get hurt however, I find it a little harder to forgive. I think that is natural and just the mama bear in me, but it’s not like I scream and yell or take vengeance out on anyone. I just maybe don’t go out of my way to be friendly, duck out of a party early, or try to avoid eye contact, so I don’t have to speak at all. And it turns out I feel this way when people hurt my friends, too.
This past year I went through some heavy stuff with some of my very best friends. The stuff didn’t even really include me, but involved relationships between people I loved, and still love. I found/find myself still struggling with the anger and hurt over it all. When I think about forgiving the parties involved, I get angry all over again, and I am tired of walking around with this anger. I tried to just stuff it down, not think or talk about it, and just pretend it never happened. But I would find myself losing sleep and struggling with anxiety and I couldn’t figure out why. Then stuff would bubble up to the top, and I would remember all the pain and anger. So then I started trying to concentrate on moving forward. Forging ahead with those that were trying to heal, and simply leaving behind those not willing to put in the hard work.
As I looked at my year behind and the year ahead, I realized I couldn’t take this anger with me. It is time for me to get healthy.
Forgiveness is peace, peace for the forgiver. Even when people don’t ask for forgiveness, it is something you can give so that you can heal and move on. You don’t even have to tell the people you forgive them. You don’t have to hang out with them; you don’t have to invite them to parties or girls’ night. You don’t even have to be Facebook friends with them to forgive them.
As a kid I was always taught to forgive and forget, but I always struggled with the forget part. How do you make your brain forget something, especially when you feel you or someone you love was so WRONGED? As an adult I think I can forgive and the forget part will come with time. I am sure a part of my brain will always remember, but eventually that memory will get buried under all the peaceful memories my forgiveness has made room for.
If you look up the definition of forgiveness you will see that it is an action. The Greek meaning is “to let go.” No payment for a debt, you just forgave it and let it go. Seeing this definition was like seeing a light bulb turn on in my head. I don’t need to see remorse in someone in order to forgive them. I don’t need an apology, I don’t need to see them change, or change their lifestyle, to forgive them. I don’t need tears and screaming and make-up hugs to forgive. I just need to let it go. I can stop waiting for people to “change their ways,” because I don’t need any of that in order to forgive. It is just a simple action. It is something strong people do. It isn’t something you have to feel, say, or write. You live it, you do it. I will do it.
Going into 2019, the first word to my lips every morning will be “forgiveness.” I am going to make an effort to just let it go. I am going to forgive those around me, but I am also going to forgive myself. I am no longer going to beat myself up over missed opportunities, or mistakes I have made. I am going to remember the lesson and forgive myself just like I am going to forgive everyone around me. Because when we forgive, then we are forgiven. There is positive power in forgiveness, and starting each day with positive thoughts will let in the light and drown out the darkness.