They say things happen in threes. This was apt, when, on a recent night, I went to buy the evening meal. Having innocently driven into a local drive-through, I obviously hadn’t noticed the line of three or four more cars parked and waiting, just a little distance away. Having apparently jumped the queue, a couple of drivers blew their horns in visceral indignation. I quickly amended my mistake and decided to walk into the restaurant to purchase dinner.
Service was average at best, and having picked up this meal I drove home, but was tailgated for most of the journey, before being overtaken on a residential street. I was doing the speed limit.
Arriving home felt good, until I checked the contents of the bags. A significant portion of the meal was missing. I was quietly livid.
But such is life; our challenge is to forgive in an ugly world. In a world that transgresses us, and often, as we also might transgress it, and often, we still profit by finding a way to get on—a way to deal with the encroaching cynicism and resentment.
Doing Something Impossibly Hard
When we are angry, forgiveness is impossible. So to expect ourselves to feel compassionate when we want to rip someone’s head off is a tall order indeed.
When things go against us we are rightly angry. We are given these emotions as a sense of feeling for justice. The only trouble for us is when the pressure valve blows and our justice must be avenged.
Avenged justice, as a thing to be fought for, very rarely comes out for the victim as it should. So often the victim becomes the perpetrator. So often the one transgressed becomes the transgressor, and sometimes there’s no coming back.
But what is impossibly hard to do when we are angry is sublimely easier through the agency of a few quiet, reflective moments. If our wisdom can counsel us, as our temper climbs the wall of our psyche, we can get beyond the need to avenge the initial transgression.
What Sort Of World Do We Expect?
Expecting to be transgressed by other people, especially when we understand our propensity to offend, is a sound basis for living this life. With that sort of outlook—expecting to be offended—we can prepare our minds and hearts for it.
We all make mistakes. And we all take ground that, on reflection, isn’t ours. We are not thieves at heart, but our instincts have us doing things we occasionally regret. When we contrast our true selves with the behaviour of others, we can see the problem better.
Sure, there is a reprobate element to life—people who do things we wouldn’t dare do. But we are more similar to other people than we realise.
So, when we have been the transgressor, and when we have been forgiven, we truly experience grace. We feel very fortunate. Others who transgress us deserve the same privilege.
Besides the above, when we refuse to forgive, our resentment twists us into knots.
Forgiveness is necessary in an ugly world. When we do not forgive, we become ugly in our resentment. Forgiveness is the key unlocking the door of the heart’s jailhouse. Forgiveness is a life-saver if our aim is for love, peace, and joy.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.