I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. The craft of forgiving but not forgetting.
We've all been wronged in our lives, but I think its what we do with that anger or hurt that really defines us as people. I realized recently that forgiveness isn't about letting them off the hook, it's not even done for his or her sake, it should be done for yours. It's like hanging a "for rent" sign followed by another reading "free" in your mind & letting that person or event occupy the space no strings attached...indefinitely.
While I was painting the other night I was thinking back on the recent holidays & how my family & friends have evolved over time. There are people who were staples to the family that are no longer with us, & there are people who have burned bridges with others & no longer partake in family functions. There are also friends who I thought would be in my life for a lifetime that are no longer friends but rather just acquaintance, if that. Just when I was getting a little emotional, Winnie, our foxhound who was heavily abused, meandered over for a little loving & that's when I realized that holding onto the hurt, or anger means there is forever a tie between me & the person who did me wrong. Winnie experienced the unthinkable but she persevered & did what so many people can't seem to do, she let go; she forgave without forgetting. If she had held onto the fear & anger she would still be spending her days cowering in the closet rather than sprawled out on the loveseat soaking up all the love & snuggles we dish out.
When you hold onto a grudge you limit yourself in ways you may not even think about. You might not go to a party because someone you had a falling out with may be there. You might avoid a certain restaurant or store because you know a certain somebody frequents it. Avoidance becomes a game you spend too much time on. Not to mention you might miss out on the night of your life because you didn't want to risk the possibility of seeing someone who hurt you. Why give them that power?
Forgiveness does not erase the past, it can't, but a healed memory is not a deleted memory. Forgiveness, hopefully, changes the memory of our past into a hope for the future & provides us with more time to focus on the good things in our lives.
We all make mistakes. We've all hurt someone whether intentional or not, but we shouldn't dwell on the things we cannot change, nor should we let them hold us, prisoner. Let go. Live a grudge-free life, it's the best revenge you can have.