Forgiveness: pardoning someone’s wrong-doing, despite an apology or recognition of one’s wrong, and surrendering all negative or vengeful feelings towards that person.
This is what my understanding of the meaning of forgiveness. Forgetting? That’s a different story.
A big part of my life has been surrounded by the need to forgive others, whether it be bullying, gossiping, lying, or cheating, and I’ve yet to master the concept. It feels nearly impossible sometimes, especially when other’s lack the ability to take personal responsibility. Growing up, I was always taught that I was responsible for my own actions and decisions. Unless you’re a true victim of an event completely out of your control, (which I’ll be discussing later) then you have no one but yourself to blame. Failed a test? You didn’t study hard enough. Didn’t get that promotion at work? You should’ve quit your morning Starbuck’s habit in order to make it to work on time like your boss asked you to do 8 times.
I’ve always been a firm believer in rugged individualism, which is ironic because I have a completely selfless job taking care of people who don’t take care of themselves. I get trampled on, cursed at, and break my back at least 5 times during a shift, yet still get up and go back the next day. So, yes, forgiveness is hard for me sometimes.
Going back to my belief in rugged individualism, I pride myself on making a great effort to keep my mouth shut when I’m around gossiping girls. The things we say to each other…I don’t understand. How can you call someone your “best friend,” and turn around and absolutely tear that person apart?
I used to let it go. Oh, who cares, all girls talk about each other, I’ve done it, it’s not a big deal. But one day, it was a big deal.
In college, I had a horrible rumor spread about me on among the track team. This girl, who started the rumor, had a rumor spread about her the previous year. Her rumor was worse than mine because it ended up being true. How did she not learn anything from that experience? Did it make her feel better about herself to say those awful things about me?
I will never know or understand.
“Just let it go, Kate. She’s a dumb, insecure girl.”
I laughed when one of the girls on the team told me about the rumor. We were in the car on our way to a track meet. Whatever, she’s a bitch. As soon as we go to the event, I high-tailed it to the bathroom.
I cried. I mean, I really cried. I had never felt so small in my entire life.
Gossiping is one thing, but demoralizing someone’s character? Two hugely different concepts.
I had full-blown chest pain. Stabbing chest pain. I couldn’t breathe. I was in the bathroom stall, gasping for air, clutching my chest, overwhelmed with what just happened. There go all of my friends. Then I blacked out.
I stood on the starting line of the 3,000 meter steeple chase. I looked directly to my right, and there she was, smiling at me. I stared deeply into her eyes. She turned away and then turned back, locking eyes with me again. Her smile faded and her eyes widened, gradually turning fearful. She just realized I know what she did.
That race is a blur to me. All I know is that race was fueled by rage. I heard my dad’s voice in the distance, telling me to “pick-it-up” because there were only 600 meters left.
Forgiveness: ceasing hateful feelings towards someone who did something wrong.
The struggle with this concept is real. The older I get, however, the better I am with forgiving. Things that used to get my panties in a bunch don’t anymore. What I have started doing, whether right or wrong, is cutting people off. If you do not respect me, then you cannot be a part of my life. Disagreeing with people is inevitable and not everyone you meet will click with your lifestyle. And guess what, that’s okay!
The most important thing I’ve learned in life is that the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. Learning that someone, who you thought was your friend, really isn’t will set you free. Finding out that your significant other is a liar and a cheater will set you free. But first, these things will hurt so badly. And then they’ll make you angry. But eventually, the cut starts to heal, the anger turns from sadness to acceptance, and you choose to move on.
Forgiveness: changing your attitude, feelings, and emotions toward someone or something to positive.
Everything happens for a reason. People come in and out of your life for a reason. The best thing you can do is learn from these experiences and try to do better next time. Maybe you shouldn’t tell everyone your business. Maybe you shouldn’t trust everyone. Maybe you shouldn’t hang out with people just because you “feel bad” or got “invited out.” Maybe you should be more careful in who you surround yourself with.
Maybe you should learn to be more content with being by yourself. Doing something you love by yourself. Making a new discovery or seeing a new place by yourself. And eventually, the right people will come along in the most unexpected ways.
That’s the good stuff right there.
Learning the truth, accepting whatever it is, and forgiving will always set you free.
Photo courtesy of 813 Photography