Forgiveness, Again

    c.285w forgive sublime“No! No! A thousand times No! I am not going to forgive him. He did me wrong, that rotten *-@-M”

    “Forgive her?! Are you out of your mind? Do you know what that *@&^% did to me. She needs to rot in hell!”

    “Forgive myself? What kind of New Age crap is that? Do you know what I did? There is absolutely no way in this lifetime or any other that is going to happen. EVER. Do you hear me?!”

    Last year I wrote a post about forgiveness. I fessed up to not forgiving easily. Still a bit weak on the subject, so I’m revisiting. I understand the concept and theory behind forgiveness. And while I stand by every word I wrote last year, standing before you is an imperfect person who still gets rankled at the idea of having to forgive another for doing her wrong.

    Heard a great story on the subject recently. (Thank you “G.”) An analogy really. Apparently, back in the days of yore (as in biblical times) when a man killed another (intentionally or otherwise) the punishment was the dead body being strapped to his back. Permanently.

    First came the smell. I can’t even imagine! (It was bad enough the time it took weeks to track down a decomposing rodent in my house, and a human body has a lot more flesh to decompose. *shudders*)

    Following the stench, came the maggots. Those industrious little buggers didn’t differentiate between the dead corpse and the living person it was strapped to. So, the maggots burrowed into the live body as well, only he didn’t live very long after.

    c.286w deadweightAside from having an attack of the “Yuks,” *shudders,* “Gross,” and “eeewwwwwww,” the analogy made its point. Holding a grudge, hanging onto any and all wrongs done to you, clinging to resentment, anger, and/or righteous indignation, is simply like having a dead body on your back. And those maggots are going to eat you alive.

    Forgiveness is a bear. No matter how many times you “hear” the words that you’re not condoning the other person’s actions (or your own misstep if you’re the one who needs forgiveness from yourself), it still feels like the other person is being given a “Get out of jail free” card. Where’s the justice? Where’s the vigilante group defending your honor? It’s not there. (Or at least it’s not apparent.) And that’s the wrinkle.

    Perhaps one of the reasons so many people want to be writers is, as such, you get to play God. You’re the all-being, all-seeing, omnipresent powerful force of the universe. In your world, the one your create with your words (probably movies as well), you can ensure justice. Not so Real Life.

    c.284w crushed violetReal Life is dirty. Real Life is messy. Real Life is made up of a bunch of imperfect people doing the best they can (in their minds), which isn’t necessarily what you think they should be doing. And their way of doing it may offend your sensibilities. But guess what? You’ve got no say in the matter. (Sucks. So much easier when you’re the author.) Still, the idea of maggots (even of the psychic and/or illustrative variety) having an “in” into my psyche and/or well-being via any grudges I’m holding (or because I’m hanging onto an unforgiving heart), is enough of an impetus for me to jump into forgiveness mode. I’m selfish enough to want what’s good for me (and maggots aren’t anywhere on that list).

    ———–

    Alexander Pope’s quote intentionally modified.

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    Sheila Bergquist - June 18, 2014 - 1:30 am

    Another great topic! Another thing I’m not perfect at either!
    “it still feels like the other person is being given a “Get out of jail free” card”…such a perfect way to put it. I like to think I forgive, but to be honest, I think it’s only forgetting. I realize that wasting my energy on being mad sucks, so I forget about what happened, I push it way back in my mind. I haven’t really forgiven, but it is something I need to work on more.

    Janet - June 18, 2014 - 8:11 am

    In a recent Sunday homily, Father Alex offered that forgiveness is letting go of our right to get even. He noted that forgiveness is not forgetting, and it is not saying that the offense was unimportant. I like this because then we aren’t denying what really happened, and remembering may be necessary in order to protect ourselves or others from being hurt (or harmed) again. It just means we leave the justice part to God, or Karma, or the legal system if appropriate.

    Gretchen - June 18, 2014 - 1:17 pm

    Such a good analogy! I truly believe that sometimes forgiveness is a process, and remembering that it is eating me up when I don’t keep up that process is important.

    Tana Bevan - June 18, 2014 - 1:20 pm

    Sheila~Perhaps if we saw the Karmic retribution in action, it’d be easier to let it go and forgive? Still, hearing the analogy was a serious wake up call. I do not want to be devoured by maggots, on any level, so I am definitely much more open to forgiveness! And forgiving unconditionally!!

    Tana Bevan - June 18, 2014 - 1:22 pm

    Janet~ I hear you and agree with you, it’s not my job to dispense justice. Still, it’d be great to be there when the Powers that Be do dispense it. *smiles* Thank you so much for sharing.

    Tana Bevan - June 18, 2014 - 7:17 pm

    Gretchen~As Gwen Goodnight said, “If you can’t be a good example, you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.” Them maggots is a horrible enough warning for this woman! So glad you stopped by.

    kath unsworth - June 18, 2014 - 8:29 pm

    Tana I am actually too tired not to forgive, holding a grudge uses up too much energy for me, so I try and let it all go back into the big pool of sludge whence it came.

    Tana Bevan - June 18, 2014 - 9:09 pm

    Kath~That works too, the exhaustion factor. I like the word picture you painted–sending it all back to “the big pool of sludge [from] whence it came.” Sweet. (Not the sludge being sweet, the sending “it” back being sweet.) Always delighted to have you stop by.

    Star - June 19, 2014 - 6:06 pm

    Gross!!! But a very good way of seeing the folly of holding grudges and not forgiving. Thank you for this compelling image.

    Tana Bevan - June 20, 2014 - 12:04 am

    Star~I was pretty grossed out when I heard the analogy. But it definitely made an impression! Sometimes I need to be hit pretty hard to truly grasp a concept. Forgiveness is important. I’ve understood that intellectually for a long while. This analogy managed to squash my non-intellectual objections, which in my book is EXCELLENT. As always, it’s wonderful to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by.

    Jamie Miles - June 24, 2014 - 3:33 pm

    It’s funny. I didn’t think I have major problems holding a grudge, but there are certain things and people, I just can’t move past. (And they probably feel the same way. ha.) It’s not many, but I think about them often enough that I really should let it gooooo. Love your doodles as always.

    Tana Bevan - June 24, 2014 - 9:22 pm

    Jamie~Maybe participating in triathlons helps keep the grudge-factor down? Whatever the reason behind your grudge-free status, ENJOY! As for the “should” of letting go … well, I’m wary of “shoulds” as a whole. However, I have found I feel so much better and LIGHTER, the more I’m able to let go, which does inspire me to wanting to let go. (You’d think that’d be impetus enough to let go of all excess baggage at once. Hmm … Not today. Maybe tomorrow?) As always it’s a delight to hear from you.