LIFELONG learning is the practice of any person on the quest of wisdom. One of life’s hardest lessons is dealing with the many interpersonal hurts that come from a life of care. And overcoming the commensurate bitterness that we are bound to struggle with is our task. The more we care about situations and persons that impinge us, the harder the hurt, the deeper the bitterness to wrestle with.
Yet, we all have the same opportunities in front of us — to heal.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned about forgiveness; some of which have been recent learnings or re-learnings:
1. Do resolve bitterness. Bitterness is a veil. As long as we are bitter we cannot hope to see the complete perspective of truth. As long as we can only see what the other side need to do we are not accountable for what we can do. Unless we wrestle with bitterness we will never forgive.
2. Don’t do anything significant in the heat of the moment. No matter how wise it seems the ‘other side’ are a variable hard to predict. Restraint is advised when regret could be the distasteful part of valour.
3. Do be honest. This has to be the hardest thing. We either learn to see truthfully — which takes courageous and dignified humility — or we ought to give others permission to speak into our lives. The former is far more dignifying. But we need the latter, too.
4. Don’t add to the other side’s burden, or for that matter, anyone’s burden. Too often I made the issue about them and brought them into it. And at times I’ve drained people because of the bad vibes I felt I needed to express. Find a sounding board who wants to be a sounding board.
5. Do keep short account regarding who you speak to and what you say. We can’t trust everyone, and even some we think we can trust are not trustworthy. How naïve would you say you are? The more naïve we are the more cautious we need to be.
6. Don’t force transformations that aren’t there yet. Sometimes we try too hard to forgive and we just prove readier to become more hurt. We expose our vulnerability and we get slammed. Allow the temperature of the heart to rise gradually to meet the climate in the head. We cannot think our way into feeling differently — or not that quickly.
We are not ready to forgive until we are ready to love.
We are ready to forgive when love is all we care about.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.