The gray winter light was streaming through my window, an invitation to embrace the day, but I pulled the covers over my head. I did not want morning to come. Morning meant a thrashing.
For several months I’ve been aggressively saving for a big trip in May. I shop at the cheap grocery store, I do not buy new clothes and I’ve reluctantly said no to concerts and shows that I’ve wanted to attend. It’s OK because I am good at skimping (Peace Corps skill for life) and this overseas trip with great friends will be worth it. Yet, it’s not easy.
Last night I spent a little excessively while with a friend. At the time I was angry with myself but I knew morning would come and I would be even harsher. How could I be so careless?
Under the covers, not ready for the guilt trip I would give myself, I looked at the time. 7 a.m. OK, an hour to wait this out and then call my mother. As much as I love my mother and as amazing and encouraging she is, and she very much is, she does not need to be awaken every Saturday with my made-up problems.
What if, I thought, I forgave myself? What if I said ‘Oh well, do better next time’ and then made a cup of tea? What if instead of seeking outside confirmation I gave it to myself and said ‘I am OK’?
I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately, whom I should forgive and who I want to forgive me. I suck at forgiveness. I want people to know that they hurt me and to be sorry, and like most people I have a hard to admitting when I have hurt someone. I’ve been going back through situations where I have felt slighted – situations where I was sure that I was the victim – with a new perspective and often seeing that I am not blameless. I was in the wrong, too, and I want to acknowledge that. In some cases, instead of waiting for an apology I offer one.
There is one particular relationship that has haunted me for quite some time and I could not figure out why it lingered. The person and I gave up hope for a real friendship long ago and if we saw each other today we would be amicable, even if slightly forced. It wasn’t one thing that drove us a part but a string of judgments, backstabbing and disrespect. I was definitely hurt, but I also know that I was not a good friend and I hurt this person. This person didn’t get the best of me and that makes me really sad.
I have forgiven this person. We are in different lives and have moved on. If I did see the person, and I do hope our paths cross again, I would not want to dive into the muck of the past but to start fresh, even if we could never get back to where we once were as friends.
So, why did this failed connection trouble me so? Because I had not forgiven myself. I was still beating myself up for being a terrible person and I hated that that is what the person knows of me. Only recently did I realize this and I have been able to scoop myself up like a loved one and remember that just because I was not a good person in this situation doesn’t mean I am not a good person. I am human. I make mistakes. It’s how we grow.
Only in forgiving myself have I’ve been able to move on. Forgiveness is powerful that way and I am using it in other relationships that gnaw at me.
Forgiveness of ones self doesn’t need to be saved for big things like the end of relationship but we should practice in all aspects of life. It’s OK to forgive ourselves when we forget the keys, ate that extra slice of cake or, even, spent a little too much at dinner.
As humans, we will never not make mistakes. That’s part of our beautiful design. Yet, we’ve been given this great gift of forgiveness so that we can see our mistakes as blessings. It’s remarkable when we forgive others but it is astonishing when we can forgive ourselves. It’s the glorious acceptance of who we are and that who we are is enough.
What is plaguing your heart this beautiful Saturday? It’s likely that some forgiveness could help. So, sweet one, go and forgive. Give yourself that deserved peace.