Can you forgive?

Tis the season, right? To forgive, or to at least revisit that place we find so hard to go.  We all have people or things in our lives that could use a little forgiveness; people we feel have wronged us, hurts as far back as childhood, injustices against our children, dreams dashed due to a cruel word or a myriad of other endless issues.

What’s most important to remember is that forgiveness isn’t the same thing as condoning.  Forgiveness is a place where we can let go of the resentment and accept the past for what it is–the past. We must give up the hope of changing the past and accept what is now and stop the “if onlys”.

Once we can truly say to ourselves, “I accept that the past is over and there is nothing I can do to change it”, we have made the first step to forgiveness and to moving forward in the present.

Most important is our ability to forgive ourselves.  We tend to beat ourselves up over the “what if’s” and erroneously make ourselves culpable for the evils that have befallen us.

While wanting to work through my intense anger and loss at Stefanie’s death, I found that far too immense to tackle.  Instead I tried forgiving myself and others for less daunting issues to see if I could really do it – practice makes perfect and all.

Being both giver and receiver of less grave, yet still hurtful deeds, the first thing I did was to look and see if there were any positive outcomes.  Amazingly I discovered that inevitably there were.  It’s a very good exercise for anyone to do as I learned a lot about my character and value system, and saw how each time I was wronged there was some slight fine tuning.

I’m working on Stefanie’s death, and although I confess I’m not there yet, it has brought me much joy in other ways. The extra closeness of family and the caring help of others—family, friends, neighbours, strangers—who, by their thousand acts of kindness were not only a comfort, but were a confirmation of the essential goodness of human nature.

More over, Stefanie has been my best teacher allowing me to grow exponentially.  When I can (and it’s not always possible) think of her and honestly thank her, although I feel sad, I also feel deep love and appreciation.  Who else would I want to teach me some of the most important lessons in life if not her?

The focus of my life has changed, my perspective on things very different, and now I’m able to filter out most that does not bring me happiness and just concentrate on that which does, “following my bliss” so to speak.

Now, truthfully, I’d trade it all and proudly be a stone cold bitch just to have her back (some might argue I still am), but the past is done and no amount of wishing is going to change that.  So, I must embrace the gifts she has given me and not waste a single one.

We are all works in progress and I believe that all of us can find a silver lining in each negative event.  We should try, at least, to forgive ourselves and accept that today is all we have in which to feel joy and allow our dreams to propel us forward to a better tomorrow.

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