I have always known that the power of forgiveness is a very liberating and freeing thing. I’ve always known that it could open my heart and allow me to let go of anger, which would make more room for love. I have always prided myself on being a person who chooses happiness over anger and have always killed people with kindness, even when they didn’t deserve it. Yet, despite all of this, I found myself in a position where I could not forgive someone. I do not care to mention this person’s identity, but this individual hurt me in a way that I simply cannot describe.
The hurt that was inflicted on me was sudden and unexpected and completely took me by surprise. It rattled me to the core and left me feeling bitter, depressed and miserable for months. I so badly wanted to tell this individual that what they had done was not only affecting me, but was affecting the lives of others I care about as well. I wanted to tell this person what a selfish fool they were being and I wanted this person to know that what they did to me unthinkable and unimaginable in my books. But instead of telling the person, I steamed and stewed for a long time, which did nothing but hurt me even further.
You see, my heart was full of anger and hurt. And that anger and hurt carried over into my personal life in so many ways. I was becoming impatient and was short with my words. I started to see things in a glass half empty sense, instead of my usual glass half full sense. And I started to become withdrawn. I didn’t want to socialize much anymore and always over-analyzed everything that anyone said or did. It was like the hurt in my heart had completely consumed me and was making me become a stranger to myself.
I knew that one day it was going to catch up with me, and I was right, it did. I was home alone with my daughter and she was pushing my buttons. She was misbehaving and no matter how many times I gently corrected her and explained to her that she was not allowed to touch the TV, she kept doing it. After the fourth of fifth time, I did what I swore I would never do. I yelled at her. “CHARLOTTE, STOP DOING THAT,” I yelled. The anger in my voice surprised the two of us. She looked at me and I wasn’t sure what to do next. She touched the TV again and without another word I picked her up and put her in her crib. I said loudly and firmly “You need to listen to mommy,” and shut the door as I exited her room.
I only made it two or three steps and I burst into tears. Why did I just yell at my daughter? She’s a baby who is trying to learn and grow and sometimes that means she will do things she isn’t supposed to do. After a few minutes I went back to check on her. She had huge tears rolling down her cheeks and was reaching up to me for a hug. I pulled her close and whispered a thousand apologies and within a few minutes, she was back to being my best friend and seemed to forget about what I had done and said.
That night, after I put her to bed, I lay quietly in the bathtub and thought about what had happened. I thought about how easy it was for my daughter to forgive me. I thought about how it could have been just as easy for her to stay mad at me, but how instead she chose to let go and move forward. My little baby, who is just over a year old, taught me the power of forgiveness.
In that moment, I knew what I had to do. I said out loud “I forgive you,” to the person who hurt me. I listed every reason as to why I was hurt by that person and said “I forgive you,” out loud for each and every one of them. By forgiving that person, it didn’t mean I was okay with what they did and it didn’t mean that person was welcome to be a part of my life, but it meant that I was letting go and moving on.
And then something happened. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. All of that anger and hurt I had been carrying around for so long was gone. The individual didn’t apologize to me personally, but they didn’t have to. Because I was done giving them brain space. I was done with letting them consume my thoughts. And most importantly, I was done with being bitter and upset. I let all of that go and let my heart fill up with love instead.
My daughter still has moments where she pushes my buttons and does things she isn’t supposed to do. And even though most of the time I handle it with gentleness and explaining, there still have been a few times where I have raised my voice. But I remind myself every day that neither of us is perfect and we are learning and growing together. She taught me a valuable lesson and it is one that I hope I can reteach her when she is older.
“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free, and realizing you were the prisoner” – Max Lucado.