The power of forgiveness

When I went through a divorce after years of a struggling marriage, my ex asked if I forgave him. I was confused. I didn’t feel that forgiveness was in my power. I didn’t feel any judgment toward him – I just needed to not argue anymore. But forgiveness was important to him so I said I didn’t hold anything against him and wouldn’t have changed a thing – we had had a great life with lots of friends and two wonderful little girls. We were just too different to stay together and it was time to part friends – but definitely to part.

When I walked away, I felt no bad feelings toward him. I just felt free and ready to get back into the world again, to get back to a positive, high-energy place.

Throughout my life, I’ve known plenty of people who are bitter about relationships and about splits and I see the bitterness weigh on them. It’s heavy. It steals their energy and their focus and holds them to part of the past that’s done. It makes them miserable and it can make them kind of miserable to be around.

When you hate someone, or feel deep jealousy, envy, or resentment, negative energy wins. You only get pieces of your life back and end the downward spiral when that person, or the situation you’re stewing over, doesn’t matter to you anymore. To me, hatred and love are opposite ends of a circle. This means they sit right next to each other in intensity making their opposite on the circle that neutral feeling between love and hate.

And while forgiveness may not feel like something you have to give, or maybe even want to give someone who has done you wrong, what if the forgiveness is really more about you than it is about them?

I was struck over the weekend by the Parkland kids’ interview on 60 Minutes at how much they want Nicholas Cruz to suffer for their school shooting – to be executed or to “rot in jail.” What they don’t see if that his life is already over. He is autistic. He has severe mental health issues. He lost all of his family. And now he’s killed 17 people and tortured hundreds of others who did him no harm. He’s not inside that body and holding tight to an intense hatred of him doesn’t hurt him. And whether he’s executed or lives the rest of his life in jail, that community will never get back what they lost. The 17 souls won’t mysteriously make their way back to earth. The loss of his life won’t magically make things even.

That being said, to protect our society, we need to make sure we never see him again. He’s dangerous and lost and can’t be around others. But hating him drains us and allows him to take more from us than he’s already taken.

I’m not in Parkland and can’t imagine the tremendous struggle to get through this tragedy. My hope for everyone involved is that they stay focused on what they’re doing to remedy gun control. They are a powerful pack and have already gotten so much done that we, as adults, did not get done. And at this weekend’s march, they’ll see how much they are affecting so many lives.

This is high-energy, powerful work, and I hope it helps them find peace with Nicholas Cruz. Not for his salvation, but for their own happiness and health.

Whew. This was a tough one to write. There really are no words to close so I’ll just give you a flower. Nameste.

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5 thoughts on “The power of forgiveness

  1. Isn’t it funny… how sometimes when we’re facing puzzlements of our own, we find that our friends are working on those selfsame issues? Your love/hate being opposite ends of a circle, hence right beside each other, really speaks to me right now. Circles and rotations and orbs and systems and all that. But even more, the serendipity of forgiveness, which because it implies a WRONG, necessitates JUDGEMENT, which, if I’m remembering correctly, is just what we’re charged to avoid!
    Thanks, Janie. I’m looking forward to further discussion.

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  2. I agree, forgiveness is always really more for the forgiver not the forgiven. I think it frees the forgiver to move on to a better space. I think sometimes it is hard to forgive *because* it changes something big in the giver. More likely, forgiveness is one of those win-win situations. The forgiver is free from past emotion to move on and the forgiven is a step closer to their path as well.

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