Updated: Dec 11, 2018
I recently read the Book Of Forgiving by the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu and it’s something that I highly encourage others to read if they have struggled with forgiveness in their lives—either towards others or themselves. I see forgiveness as one of the hardest things for many to overcome. It’s a topic that comes up again and again during my readings. How do I let go when the hurt is so great? Can I ever forgive?
And it leads me to think about the friendships we have. How strong are these bonds in reality? I ask this because it seems that when a mistake is made it is so common for us to eliminate the offending person right away. We just opt to eliminate them from our lives, rather then start the hard process of forgiveness. It’s certainly happened to me before—where I made a mistake and others judged me harshly and dropped me from the their “friends list” right away. And it leads me to wonder—was my friendship only dependent on my being the perfect person? Is that why favor was withdrawn so quickly and the others stepped aside to watch me fall?
It’s almost our natural inclination, right? We hear about something a friend did that we judge as morally wrong and we shun them. All the other things about them we actually liked are forgotten and they become persona non grata. We don’t offer any tenderness or compassion for that person. That’s it—they are done and we make statements like, “I would never do that. How could they do that? What’s wrong with them?” So, what are we really doing here? Passing judgment on them and then dishing out our own form of punishment in the form of alienation.
And this is the challenge here. If we are truly kind and compassionate people, does that not extend to those who have made some unsavory choices? It’s hard to do because when another’s dark or shadow side is revealed to us, it usually makes us extremely uncomfortable. This is especially true if it hasn’t ever been exposed to us before. There is a sort of betrayal that we feel when this happens. Wait, I thought I knew this person? Were they lying to me all along? Do I really know them? And we make choices to ban people from our lives based on fear. If that person has a shadow side, do I? What if others react the same way to me? And we all do have a shadow side, but we run from it in absolute fear instead of confronting all parts of ourselves. The process of accepting our whole selves in a scary thing. In meditation, we always call it a practice because we are never perfect at mastering our minds. It is something we work towards. I see being human in this same way, that we are practicing being human. Always on the path of learning towards enlightenment.
Let me explain further, I am not insensitive to those who are suffering from deep wounds, and maybe it is not safe for some people to be in our lives for our own well-being. The act of forgiveness is a long, hard process and I would never make light of someone else’s real pain that has been caused by others, nor am I an expert in forgiveness. I would highly recommend reading the book I mentioned at the beginning of this post or speaking to a pro who could help you work through this if it’s something that has been weighing on you.
You don’t want that heavy energy holding you back!