I've been having a lot of "forgive them for they know not what they do" moments. People seem ruder every day but perhaps that is only in direct ratio to my getting older every day.
I decided to stop cursing in my car just when I had gotten really good at it. Wasting talent is rather like flinging gold in the streets, but expressing my anger in the vocabulary of a sailor's parrot has clearly not helped anyone's driving skills, even my own. Nor has it had an effect on the widespread lack of manners which have been replaced by an aggressive me-first attitude that is not conducive to loving kindness and tranquility. It is time to bring on the heavy artillery, forgiveness, for it can go where anger never can.
I have been contemplating the larger issue of forgiveness as it applies to more serious offenses than those committed by thoughtless, self-absorbed people in their cars. There is a natural reluctance to forgive because it can feel as if we are negating our own importance, but it is actually for the benefit of the wronged party because resentment is a heavy load to carry. Setting it down frees us to do more productive things with our energy, while dwelling in our pain and outrage keeps the injury forever fresh and unable to heal.
One of the lessons to be learned from abuse is to rise above it and not inflict it on others. While we know that most abusive people were themselves abused, it is not a get out of jail free card. Hurting someone else never evens the score. We all need to take responsibility for our actions, no matter how we were treated in the past.
Jesus spoke of "turning the other cheek," which does not come naturally to most of us. I resisted the idea for a long time, not because I am not a Christian but because I thought it meant that I did not deserve to be treated with respect, and I was unwilling to conspire in my own doormat-ness. I now believe he meant that our spiritual goals are more important to our soul's progress than
It doesn't matter whether or not someone apologizes, and we further bind ourselves to a person by waiting for his remorse before we forgive. Our forgiveness sets us free. What he does with it is not our concern; our own emotional health is. Forgiving does not mean that it was OK to hurt us, but that we choose to do more rewarding things with our time on earth. We can have compassion for his suffering while protecting ourselves from future harm. When we have both understanding and compassion, we are able to truly forgive and move on. I have found this to be one of life's most challenging lessons, but also among its most rewarding, (right up there with becoming an accomplished cusser.)
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”