“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”-Mahatma Gandhi
I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. Not because I am enraged, jealous, or holding a grudge. But because I realized that I have been at war with someone who will never let me win–myself.
My days have been a little hazy and my head has felt confused. At first I just thought that I’d become a little too addicted to my cup of morning joe, but then I realized that even some dark French roast couldn’t put my broken soul back together. It’s as if pieces of me have slowly been chipping off and been left at the scene of the break, but in small enough increments that I didn’t notice it until a large dent had been made.
Don’t get me wrong–I am so incredibly blessed and I lead an amazing life. In light of all the past week’s events, I have realized just how grateful I am for everything (and everyone) around me. But one small thing was missing–gratitude for myself. When I love, I love hard, and on the sometimes unfortunate other side, when I fight, I wage a raging battle. I have slowly learned how to open myself up to all that the Lord has bestowed upon me and to show gratitude for that, but along the way I have forgotten that to truly accept my bounties I must be at peace with myself. I can’t appreciate the world if I’m stuck jabbing elbows with my aforementioned self. I am supposed to be a conduit for joy, a soldier for grace, a breathing testimony of my values. Regardless of where I am in my life, whether I’m alone and hurting or full of smiles and warmth, I want to be able to project my true self and what I stand for to the world. In order to have that ability, I have to stop scolding and reprimanding Me.
So how do I do that? Forgive. First and foremost, forgive myself for picking up a sword in the first place. Then, dive into apologies for all of the nit-picking, negative comments, and rude remarks that I have dished out to Me like they were nothing but passing words. Forgive myself for hurting, for being broken. Forgive myself for pretending for a moment that I could actually be friends with Mrs. Perfectionist. I think one of the hardest things to learn in life is that forgiveness is not equated with weakness. As Gandhi said, forgiveness is strength. By being gentle with yourself you are not opening cracks for more flaws to crawl in, but rather you are opening doors for boundless opportunities. Easier said than done, I might add.
But one way to start is by changing your thinking. Gently redirect your thoughts and be able to recognize when they are no longer serving your values or your higher purpose. As Martha Beck, writer and contributor to O Magazine, said in one of her blog posts, you must “begin to see where the thoughts you believe most deeply no longer serve to explain the chaos in your life.” That is when you know that your reoccurring thoughts have strayed from your core values.
So, as I sit here thinking about being well with my soul and humming a little Mumford and Sons, I realize just how much our relationship with ourselves affects every second of our daily lives. I think sometimes we spend too much time focusing on our networks with others when really we need to be cultivating the most important relationship, that which we will have for the rest of our lives. I know it’s not January, but it’s never too late to form a new goal: forgive myself. With that will come a gentler spirit and a quieter mind.