The 8th element of Elements of life:
12 bridges back to you.
I’m headed back from a camping trip with my daughter, Sienna. Our time together was incredible. On the 9 hour drive North we sang to One Direction and Spiral Staircase. We chatted about boys and recalled her daring acts of defiance as a toddler; like when she was three and escaped her wretched nap by climbing out her bedroom window and hiding at our neighbor’s house. I made her laugh with my bad jokes. She made me nearly cry with her bad driving. (actually she’s a really good driver for having just received her permit.) Being alone with Sienna, simply enjoying her presence, life made sense. But in those early morning hours of aloneness, something was bugging me. Something wasn’t right.
As I contemplated the root of that low grade nag I realized I was a little perturbed at a friend of mine whom I felt had taken advantage of me. Well, okay, so maybe she did. But do I really want her with me on this amazing journey I’m having with my daughter? The answer is, NO! I don’t. Then I remembered this powerful quote:
“Forgiveness doesn’t change the past. But it breaks the chains that bind our past to our future.”
Sure this particular offense by my friend wasn’t very big. Heaven knows people have experienced offenses beyond comprehension. The point is, big or small, we carry these offenses around like an invisible ball and chain.
And the way I see it, the offender affected my life once, I’d be a monkey’s uncle to let her continue affecting the rest of my life. I want the freedom to create the life I choose. And the only way to obtain that freedom is to practice forgiveness.
(Can you tell I’m preaching to myself here??) I guess that’s why we call it a practice. Because no matter how many offenses we forgive, there are new offenses being generated; another ball and chain linked to my future. Dang, I wish I could “get it” once and be done with it. But that’s life.
So whenever I get that knot in my stomach I have to ASK MYSELF: What hurt. What pain, what offense am I holding on to? There’s always something. And so, we must PRACTICE forgiveness again and again.
PS. that awesome quote I mentioned up top? I wrote that. Yep. In one moment of brilliance, I wrote that. Unfortunately between the “brilliant” moments, there’s every day life: we stumble, we fall, we hold grudges, and we get angry at ourselves for doing so.
Note to self: Forgiveness: Apply every few hours. Especially to ourselves.