Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The gift of forgiveness

36 years and counting - of friendships, family relations, new challenges, victories as well as setbacks.

For my birthday last year, I've listed down all the people, places, and events that I am thankful for - the blessings I've received and continuously relishing. This year, I thought I would want to focus on the one thing that I thought was somehow holding me back from having a really meaningful and enjoyable life moving forward - forgiveness.

If there's one thing I've learned in life, it's that the hardest thing to do is to forgive one's self. I've always been hard on myself - for my shortcomings, mistakes, blunders - no matter how small the matter was (forgetting to enter an event on my calendar or going to the grocery for eggs). You can imagine how I punish myself for the wrong decisions which gravely affected a foreseeable promising future (although it wasn't really a guaranteed future). Yes, it has held me back big time, even when everyone else who were directly affected by the matter has already forgiven and forgotten for more than a decade now. It didn't occur to me that everything else that followed (hesitations, fears, inhibitions) was indirectly brought about by the fact that I haven't really moved on from that life-changing event. And it had kept me hanging in limbo - not knowing what to do next, how to get on with life, and which direction I should be exploring next that wouldn't lead to another road block. 

Not forgiving leads to not forgetting, and not forgetting brings back all the heartaches and sorrows, the what ifs and what should haves. All these emotions and hopes served as impediments to that what could haves. And I could have done better without all the baggage I carry with me all these years, even when friends tell me I'm doing just fine. There I am again, being hard on myself, as my friends would say.

Forgiveness seems to elude me. How difficult can it be to forgive? And yet, when I see my kids playing one minute and fighting the other (like they hated each other for life), and then getting back together again as if nothing happened. When I scold them for bad behavior or not doing their work properly, then don't really carry a grudge against me (oh, I do hope they don't!). By dinner time, they are back to being bubbly and chatty, and I even get a kiss goodnight. That's how simple and easy forgiveness should be. I'm thankful that they have shown me that arguments are just arguments, scolding is part and parcel of parenting (and growing up) and they could take it and still be my loving children at the end of the day.

So from this day on, as a special gift to myself, I will forgive and forget. I will finally let the past go, and bury it into the grave it should have been laid to rest eons ago. It's not going to be as easy said as done. I will continue to make life's biggest blunders, as human and imperfect as I am. But knowing that I can forgive myself provides me a clean slate every time. Then I can start all over again, with a new perspective in life, carrying with me all the life lessons learned. I will no longer have a heavy heart. I will be less stressed. I can have more fun, real fun. And I will no longer be afraid to try (anything) for the fear of failing or making mistakes and face the unforgiving persona yet again.

 A happy, contented heart and a resolute soul. Forgiveness sets me free.

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