This is likely the most abstract idea I have ever come upon. How do you tell your mind, your heart, to do something. These are two parts of my body that control the rest of me. It is just backwards. I can want to forgive, I can contemplate forgiveness, but I can’t just forgive. I guess it is a bit like love. You can’t just love someone cause you want to. Or because it would be good for you. It takes time, and work and experience. But love is fun… Forgiveness? Not so much.
I will admit, I have a few things that I have harbored. And I almost like it. It is like a drug. Because when I do not forget then I can feel superior. Someone wronged me and they suck. I don’t, I was wronged. And when you are wronged you get pity and hugs and can be snarky with other people about your “wrong doer”. And that may be great for a second. The nice chemical rush to the brain, but when it sits in your gut, it sure feels icky. Like the brain freeze. Those first few sips of that chocolate malt? Amaaaazing!!!! But take one to many? Brain freeze. Everything stops, you can’t see or think, you regret every sip. Or that piece of pizza? So yummy, why not eat the entire pie? Regret, pain, moaning on the couch.
Back to forgiveness. I have been thinking on and off about it for a while, because I feel haunted by a few things, that I truly just want to let go of. But I don’t think I want to forgive. Because I want to be angry. Angry is easy. But anger is addictive, anger does not let go of me. And when I think about forgiveness, like true real forgiveness, I think it is just too hard. I will keep my drug of choice, anger.
And it is the gateway drug… being angry at one person, makes it easier to be angry at another, and then at groups of people, and and states and countries and then someday, the world. I get angry when people do not use Bethany because I think we have the best services ever. I get angry when people are republicans. I am angry at the entire country of Germany cause their Frankfurt airport sucks (at least it did the 2 times I was in it). I get angry because other people are angry.
Then today, I had an eye opening experience. I am attending the Global Leadership Summit, put on by Willow Creek Church and live streamed all over the world. And the second speaker was General Colin Powell. Now I like this guy. I can’t really tell you why, I don’t know a lot about him, but he has this presence about him. I see him on t.v talking about whatever war or national security issue that was happening and his calming presence was contagious. But today, when he walked on the stage and was going to talk about leadership, the first thing I though of was “Please don’t talk about George Bush, please don’t talk about George Bush” because, in my mind, if he mentioned the name, I would get angry. (see how it is always right there? The anger? It is just anticipating it’s next move). But he did say a few powerful things.
He talked about being a poor kid from the Bronx who was black and from an immigrant family. He experienced a lot of discrimination. He had a hard life. But instead of dwelling on not going to West Point because he would not have been allowed in, he talked about how every person, both positive and negative, has made him who he is today. How every experience, both positive and negative, has made him who he is today. He did not dwell on negativity. He did not go to anger. He accepted. He embraced. He built a solid foundation and grew.
And then he brought up Nelson Mandela. When someone you respect starts talking about one of your heroes, well, you know things are about to get real. Powell told a story about Nelson Mandela, who was in jail for 2 decades and then some and when he got out someone asked “Are you happy that you can not get revenge on those you put you in jail?” And Mandela said “If I did that, I would still be in jail”.
Bam. The word forgiveness lit up like Times Square in my head. I am in jail. My anger keeps me locked up. It keeps me from learning and growing and allowing my solid foundation to dry and for me to build on it. Anger is ugly, anger is hopeless, anger is just not worth it. And if a man, who was wrongly jailed for 20 plus years for fighting for a worthy cause, can forgive, then I can figure out how to do it as well.
I know now that I DO want to forgive, and I finally get why I WANT to forgive, now I just have to figure out how to be genuine in my forgiveness. There is one more day of the summit, so there is hope!