The “F” Word
When I was about 10 years old, maybe a little older, my Dad slammed me in the door at our family’s restaurant. Not just my hand or my arm, but pretty much half my body. We were running around and he didn’t know I was behind him, and he shut the door with me in it. I think I was more shocked than injured, which is crazy considering the size of my father. He felt terrible, I was crying, he apologized, I forgave him. He obviously didn’t intentionally sandwich his youngest child in between the wall and the door, so how could I be mad at him? After all, he IS the kindest man that ever lived; but at 28, it’s still very much unforgettable. I forgave, but never forgot.
isn’t always easy, mostly because we don’t know where to start. Not all situations are cut & dry, black & white. What does it even mean, really? If I wrong you, and you forgive me but not forget what I did, and every time you see me you’re reminded of what happened, did you really forgive me? Whoa! It gets kind of blurry.
I try and look at situations in terms of what part I am responsible for. How did I help create/propel/act/react to lead it to where it resulted? We all know someone who points the finger and blames everyone else for misfortune or mistake. There’s a time frame before that happens when we can pause and take ownership for our role in every moment. People are people, and you know exactly what I mean! We get hurt, we wrong each other, we fight, and we change relationships forever. It’s not intentional; it just happens. We ALL get slammed in a door. Before you run around blaming others, stop and think about what you did to allow the situation. I knew my Dad didn’t know I was behind him, but did I yell, “Dad! I’m behind you!” No. So was it completely his fault for shutting the door behind him with me in it? Absolutely not.
Most often we need to start by forgiving ourselves before we can forgive others. Forgive yourself for taking a risk. Forgive yourself for making a decision that didn’t end how you hoped. Forgive yourself for not setting boundaries when necessary. Forgive yourself for following someone through a door. YOU’RE HUMAN! The day we stop learning is the day we stop living, right? We always look for the best in others, and sometimes we get disappointed. Rather trust and get burned then never trust and never know; that’s what gives us dimension.
So the next time you say you’ve forgiven someone, make sure you’ve forgiven yourself first. Take ownership of your percentage of the event, and really think about how you stand. Forgiveness is not an emotion. It’s a choice. It’s a verb. It’s a conscious action. It’ll make you better friends with yourself.