Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F is for Forgiveness

Not sure why I picked this topic for the letter F.  It's been on my mind for two days as my subject of choice, so I guess I will go with it.

I used to teach Anger Management at almost every single job I have ever had in the field of therapy.  I taught it at substance abuse treatment places, at a mental health facility, on an acute mental health unit of a hospital and in a prison.  Everyone needs anger management, apparently, myself included.  I believe I have to teach things because God thinks I need to learn about the subject.  I guess I haven't gotten Anger Management down pat yet. 

Part of teaching Anger Management in my group was also discussing the topic of forgiveness.  There are a lot of sayings about forgiveness and why it is important.  I used to liken it to carrying a table with another person.  It takes both of you to carry it, one on each end.  If it gets too heavy, put down your end and walk off.  That's forgiveness; putting down your end of the table.  Try playing catch with someone who refuses to catch the ball.  It's not a game of catch, it's you throwing a ball at someone.  Not much of a game and it's exhausting to have to throw the ball and then retrieve it and throw it again.  Forgiveness is refusing to catch the ball.   You don't expend any energy and the game of catch no longer matters.  You get to save your throwing arm for something important. 

Forgiveness is simple, but it is not easy.  Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or allowing someone to hurt you again.  Forgiveness is just the opposite.  When you forgive someone, they no longer have any power over you or your emotions or thoughts.  As long as you are carrying around a grudge, it's like carrying around a large boulder on your back.  The load determines how fast you go, where you go and how you feel.  That boulder or person you are not forgiving, continues to exert stress on you even when you aren't thinking about it.

Forgiveness has nothing to do with the person you are forgiving.  They don't need to ask for it or earn it.  It's not a gift for them, it's a gift for yourself.  I know that many people have forgiven me for many things, including the Great Forgiver, God.  I am usually really good at forgiving others as well.  I can thing of one person in this world I have not allowed myself to forgive.  To this day if I see this person, she runs in the opposite direction because she knows I will say something to her to hurt her.  I'm really not sure why I cannot bring myself to forgive this person, except for the fact that she attempted to ruin every relationship I hold dear.  She still tries, five or six years after we have stopped speaking.  I know that once I drop my end of the table, stop throwing the ball or quit carrying around the rock, I will feel so much better.  I also know that not forgiving this person is holding me back spiritually.  For now, for whatever reason, I choose to hang onto it.

Do yourselves a favor and search your hearts to see if there is anyone you need to forgive so that you can go on to enjoy your life more fully.  I will continue to prepare myself to let this one go.