Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The F-word

It's probably not the F-word you're thinking of, but it might be just as dirty of a word to you. My friend, Alisha, wrote an AMAZING blog post on this word. She originally posted it on Nancy Rue's blog (Nancy Rue is one of my absolute favorite authors. Her blog is awesome!) Alisha also has an incredible story of her own, which I'll talk about in a later post. Anyway, Alisha was gracious enough to let me post her blog post here. I loved it, and I know you guys will too!

From Alisha...

They say forgive and forget, like it’s easy, like it’s possible. I put off writing this entry for a while because, quite frankly, I didn’t know what to say. I know forgiveness. I’ve done forgiveness. We all know the passage in the Bible when Jesus tells the man to forgive 7 X 70. And yet forgiveness is such a hard thing to wrap your head around.

 I spent this week looking into forgiveness. I looked at quotes from other well-known men and women who had a thing or two to say about forgiveness. Gandhi says forgiveness is an attribute of the strong. Martin Luther King Jr. says forgiveness is not an act, but a constant attitude. And I like that. I believe, from all the things I’ve learned about forgiveness, that this is true.
They say forgive and forget but I would like to raise a different argument. Forgive and don’t forget. It sounds crazy, I know, but bear with me. There have been multiple occasions in my life when I am asked to forgive. Some are small, and some are huge. I thought that forgiving the other person meant that I was excusing their behavior. But nothing could be farther from the truth. I’m not forgiving this person because of what they did is ok. I’m forgiving them for me, for my sake.

 They say to forgive and forget but I think they’re wrong. I think that by remembering you become better. By remembering what the other person did, you can use it to propel yourself forward, to grow.
I was asked not too long ago to forgive someone for something they did. I won’t tell you who it was or what I was asked to forgive, that doesn’t matter anyway, but it was huge, something I didn’t know if I would ever be able to forgive. There was no reason I should have forgiven this person and everyone was telling me I had the right to hold a grudge. Forgiveness did not come easy. And when it did come, it didn’t mean I was excusing the behavior. It was instead a “thank you for this experience.” It was letting go of what was no longer mine to hold onto. The need for revenge, the hurt, the hatred, the anger, the pain. But forgiving didn’t mean I forgot what this individual did. I will probably never forget what happened to me. It is a part of who I am and I am using it to push me, to grow me. Forgetting, I think, is like burying your head in the sand. It’s avoiding the purple elephant in the room. It isn’t possible to forget. Even if you push this thing out of your mind, it’s still there. Somewhere inside of you there is a place where all these memories go and you’ll remember. There is no hiding, no forgetting. So instead, I decided that instead of forgiving and forgetting I would forgive and grow. I would forgive and let go. I would forgive and make better choices next time, to learn from what happened to me and from my mistakes.

 What happened to me is still horrible and I am reminded of it every day when I wake up and look in the mirror. In choosing to forgive, in having that daily attitude of forgiveness like Martin Luther King Jr. suggests, I daily choose to let go of my need for revenge, let go of my pain, my anger, my hatred. I make a choice to surrender. Forgiveness, I am learning, isn’t an attribute of the weak, but instead something that requires so much strength. It isn’t excusing the behavior or letting someone off the hook. Forgiving isn’t about the other person at all. It’s about me. And you don’t have to forget to forgive. I would suggest you don’t. I didn’t. The memories of what happened have been stored and I will never forget, even if I do my best to push it out of my mind. I want to use these experiences to enable me to grow, to push myself forward into my future.
Forgiveness gave me the power to let go of my hatred and drop my anger and my pain and hold onto the things worth holding onto, like love, and family, and friendship and laughing on a Saturday afternoon at the lake. And somewhere, stored in my body, are the memories of what happened, tucked away for safe keeping. Once in a while I pull them out and dust them off, to remind me how strong I am, to remind me where I’m going. Remembering what happened to me gives me the power to grow, to know better and in turn do better. By choosing to remember I am empowered. By choosing to forgive I become strong. And by choosing to live with forgiveness and remembrance, I can embrace my future with open arms, able to hold onto relationships and love and sunny Saturday’s at the lake. I can grow and thrive and do better. By choosing forgiveness, by choosing to let me experiences push me and grow me and remembering that, I can truly live.

Alisha's post made me re-think my approach to forgiving people. It made me see it in a new light. It made this F-word a little less dirty.

To hear more of Alisha's wisdom and to learn a little bit more about her, you can check out her blog.


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