Forgiveness is a mysterious temptress. Sometimes she flows so freely from your every pore, like air from your lungs. Before anyone even has to open their mouth to beg for forgiveness, she has been freely, fully given, with no conditions or catches. Once you have been forgiven of your transgressions, the matter is truly over, left in the past where it should be buried in a shallow grave, given its proper regards. Life moves on.
Sometimes forgiveness digs her heels in. She must be earned. There are some things that can’t and shouldn’t be so easily forgiven. Infidelity. Big lies that can’t be simply explained as I just didn’t want to hurt you by telling you the brunt reality. Or, “I forgot to tell you that I’m actually living here illegally, and I have another family in Mexico.” You must bow down to your ego and realize that you aren’t as clever or as wise as you thought you were. You have seriously hurt someone, probably someone you care about very much. And because of this, they’ve lost some degree of faith in you. They feel like they can’t trust you.
You can’t just win them back with a joke or a bouquet of flowers. You will have to spend some serious time working to regain their trust. You will have to be transparent. You will have to realize that you can’t keep everything to yourself anymore. You will have to be held accountable. You will have to treat the injured party like a king or queen, respectively. You will have to say you’re sorry, feeling it and meaning it from the bottom of your heart. You will have to say it so that he/she knows it in their core that you mean it. You will have to pay for this transgression until you’ve earned entry through that door that leads you back into your partner’s inner circle. Her walls have been let down and she can trust you with her love again. She can once again feel your respect and admiration for her.
Forgiveness often remains just at the edge of our fingertips, waiting to be learned. Some peoples’ walls have been built up so high from all their past bad experiences with other people at other times, they genuinely don’t know how to let other people back in again. It’s a process, often brutal and never simple. Sometimes their partner has the patience to stand by their side, give them space, while still letting them know they are loved and admired. Sure there has been pain both ways. Sure they both need to let go off hurtful things said, past wrongs, poor choices, and yes, that damn variable of bad timing. Sometimes people fear that learning how to forgive is a sign of showing weakness. In fact, I think forgiveness is one of the strongest things we can do, not only to others, but for ourselves.
When we carry around our pain, disappointment and hurt over all the ways people have wronged us in the past, we block ourselves from moving forward. We create a toxic cloud around ourselves that prevents us from truly seeing what is in front of our eyes in the present. We don’t allow ourselves to live in and enjoy the now.
We can’t forgive and we definitely can’t forget, so we get mired in the past. We relive it like a broken record that never stops replaying. We grow so used to it, we think it must be what we need, where we should invest our time and emotion. Instead we’re just paralyzing ourselves, keeping ourselves from living the best life we are meant to live.
So how do we learn to listen to forgiveness when her whisper is so quiet, yet admittedly so sweet? We must come to her like a child. We don’t know it all, and we can’t pretend to. We must be willing to get still and listen to the true drumming and thrumming of our heart beats. What are they secretly telling us? Do we want to stay mad at this person we love possibly more than anyone else we’ve loved before? Have they really committed a transgression so great that it cannot be overcome through time, personal and spiritual growth, and love? These answers aren’t easy and you may have one answer today and a different answer next week. But the point is to listen and to keep an ear out for consistency. Which answer do you keep finding yourself turning back to?
Learn to know yourself so well that when your heart gives you truth, you can recognize it clearly and soundly. This often means stepping back and taking a lot of personal time, meditation and for some, prayer. Don’t be afraid of your solitude. Or the silence. Don’t be afraid of the mood swings that are sure to follow. Forgive yourself if you sometimes fall back into bad habits during this process. The point is to get through this process. Journal your journey. Talk to people you feel you can trust. I pray about it. Sometimes, this process takes a month, sometimes it takes a year. But when your eyes finally open wide, you know when you are capable of forgiveness or not.
You know whether you can and should take that big leap again. You know when a surprise 3-hour Skype call can start you dreaming again, when the flood of memories aren’t so bittersweet anymore–they’re just sweet. You know when you both have matured and transformed enough as individuals that you feel the potential that maybe one day there might come a time when you both truly can forgive each other again. When you know there is just too much good that outweighs that bad. You sit at the computer at 3:30 in the morning, and you realize, “That sneaky forgiveness may have slid her way back into my heart once again.”