The F Word: Finding Freedom in Forgiveness
Ever since I was little, I had a fascination with butterflies. Their beauty and ability to fly was not only majestic but something I loved to see. However, I rarely had the ability to touch them or see them on the ground. I remember the day my Granny called me to see the wet butterfly which gave me the chance to hold it. It was beautiful and capable, but it was powerless. Looking back it stands to show that even the most powerful and beautiful creatures can't fly and are put in harm's way whenever something is weighing it down.
Forgiveness is a lift that gives us the ability to move forward and stronger, but it's also something most of us struggle with. There were times the faces of those I've hurt woke me up in the morning and the memories of those that hurt me tucked me in at night. For longer than I should, I've wrestled with hindsight, hurt, shame, and resentment and only now do I understand why. My issue isn't walking away from an issue or something negative. My problem is spiritually detaching from it. My unforgiving spirit is a stronghold that has not only held me captive in my mind, but also in my pursuit of happiness. I can't find myself until I free myself.
I Apologize for my Shortcomings
Though I, like many people, like to go out of my way to leave people better than I found them, there are times that I have undoubtedly failed at that endeavor. There are people I've hurt throughout my life: some knowingly, others accidentally, and many through ignorance. I have been the storm in other peoples' lives. Whether the pain I inflicted on them came as a response from my place of panic and fear, the voice of my ego, or condemning glances from my once judgmental eyes, I know that I have caused hurt and damage to others and if I could, I would undo it all.
There were times I was selfish, critical, evil, jealous, deceitful, delusional, ignorant, careless, and destructive. I sank peoples' ships in an effort to keep mine afloat and held grudges, hatred, and resentment against people that hurt me. I'm sorry for the times I judged without understanding and failed to be there for people that needed me to step up. I've taken people for granted and didn't express to others just how much I appreciated them. There isn't one person that've ever hurt that I don't feel remorse for or wish I could make better. Of all the pains I've ever felt in my life, none cut quite as deep or made a profound difference like realizing we all have a power to hurt people did. I can't go back in time to take words back or do things differently, but I can say that I am truly sorry and learned from it all.
I've Let It All Go
I'm no longer living in the past so I have to leave it all there. From my childhood to my adult life, there are people, experiences, and losses that I have to make peace with to not only progress on my journey, but also to get my power back. I'm not carrying the weight of anyone or anything anymore.
I'm deleting the voices of the people who used, abused, and bullied me as a child. The friends that treated me like I was disposable and the family members that made me feel like they couldn't wait for me to fall. The people that took advantage of kindness and plotted on my weaknesses. The times my feelings were disregarded and my support was nonexistent. Those that I was always there for and defended but didn't care to come through for me in my points or times of need, are all vindicated. Do I trust, spend time with, or entertain all the people that hurt me? No, but I do wish them all growth and insight because there are times I've been like some of them and needed forgiveness. I forgive them because I understand that people change, things happen, and no one is perfect.
I Forgive Myself
Everyone stressed the importance of forgiving others and how we are morally obligated to do so, yet everyone overlooks just how imperative it is to forgive one's self. By far the hardest person I've ever tried to forgive is myself. I've condemned myself and struggled to not only let go of all I've done, but all that I've failed to do. Most of all, I must forgive myself for not knowing the things I know now, before I had to go through the trials to learn them. I forgive myself for my times of rebellion, anger, and iniquity along with the pain I caused and the pain I endured. The days I put my power in the hands of opinions, people, and pills. The times I almost let my life and purpose slip through my grasp. I forgive myself for any situation where I lashed out and acted out while in my place of darkness. For succumbing to negative self talk and missing opportunities not based on my lack of capability but for my lack of confidence and direction. I forgive myself for running from my issues I should have faced head on and for hitting rock bottom before digging deep, fighting my demons, and reaching for God. I forgive myself for not previously having the mindset, heart, and renewed spirit that I have today.
Flawed and Free
Everyone on this Earth has hurt and been hurt. We've all fallen short, made mistakes, did things in hindsight we wish we didn't, and faced loss and struggles. However, those flaws don't make us horrible people. They make us human. Every loss, every pain, and every mishap has led us to the person that we are at this very moment. Forgiving others and forgiving ourselves is not always as effortless as it sounds, but I think we can all agree that life is better whenever we aren't carrying burdens, problems of the past, and condemnation around.
"To forgive is the set the prisoner free, and to discover the prisoner was you."