I am always hearing about forgiveness and about how my life will be so much better once I learn to forgive those who trespass against us. Normally I just ignore it because I don’t like being told what to do but every now and then and I do stop and think about it.
Is my life incomplete because I haven’t forgiven everyone who has ever wronged me? Is my heart trapped in a steel cage because I haven’t freed it up by telling everyone “it’s ok, I forgive you”? Do I suffer from a lack of forgiveness in my life?
And the answer is no. I do not suffer.
I suppose the idea of forgiveness is comforting to some. And don’t get me wrong, there are people whom I have forgiven in my life. You don’t get to be the 43-year-old daughter of an alcoholic daddy without doing some forgiving.
There were people in my life who did me wrong. When I was younger, I wasn’t quite so good at handling that stuff. Now, at this ripe old age, I have perfected my slash-and-burn scorched earth policy.
If someone does something so heinous that it requires me to sit around assessing whether or not I should forgive them, then there’s a strong chance they are going to fail the test I use now on a regular basis- is my life better with you in it or out of it?
Two years ago a close friend committed suicide. As many of you unfortunately know, death tends to bring out the absolute worst in some people. I’d like to say “myself excluded” but I’m not immune to the hurt, either. I’m not sitting here polishing my halo. I know I can be ornery and obstinate and quick to anger.
An online community I’d belonged to for years splintered and I went down in a blaze of glory standing up for what I considered to be right.
Do I regret it? Not for one red-hot second.
Years before that, an uncle committed suicide and my cousin, his daughter, went against his wishes and basically stole his life insurance money, wounding my favorite Aunt to the quick.
And when my beloved and adored Stepdad died, someone took it upon themselves to say some pretty horrible things to my Mom, someone who had only tried to love and help them along their journey.
Am I consumed with the fiery passion and rage that filled me at that time? Nope.
Perhaps that’s why I don’t feel some overwhelming urge to forgive. I’m not sure. I don’t feel like there is a gaping hole in my life that I need to fill with the sweet salve of forgiveness.
Sometimes their names come up in conversation but most days they aren’t even a blip on my radar.
If I thought for one minute that I was suffering from a forgiveness-itis and that forgiving someone might make me a better person or make my life sweeter, I might worry about it a bit more.
But the truth is I don’t want to forgive those people. I know there are people for whom forgiveness is very important, whether it’s due to their religious beliefs or they are following a program that requires forgiveness.
I’m not down with forgiving everyone for everything they do wrong. We’re not talking about someone who cut me off in traffic. We’re talking about people who did what I consider to be some seriously shitty stuff to someone I love.
And those of you who know me well know that I am ferocious in my will to protect those I love. You don’t want to harm someone close to me.
Forgiving someone those dirty deeds seems tantamount to excusing their behavior in my eyes.
And I’m not down with that.
Does that mean I am suffering from the lack of forgiveness in my life? If I am then I’m not sure how. All I know is that I lay my head down on my pillow every night of my life and I have no problems falling to sleep. I’m ok with the person I am and the things I have done. I believe in what I stood up for and if I had to do it again I’d do the same.
So I guess the next time I hear someone talking about forgiveness I’ll probably stop and do a self-check and see how I’m feeling that day.
But I’m pretty sure I’ll still be ok with myself.