I like to think about forgiveness in the active form of the word because it indicates an ongoing process, a state of mind, an approach to oneself and to others. Approaching situations with a forgiving attitude allows us to put down our defences and moves us into a space of compassionate inquiry instead of accusatory blaming.
Recently I forgot to do something that impacted another person, not significantly but enough for me to feel bad inside about it. They told me it was all ok, they sorted themselves out, but I could feel my resistance internally to be forgiving towards myself. Then I had a thought “Isn’t life just a series of humans trying the best they can?” “Aren’t I one of them?” These sorts of thoughts help me soften my inner critic and feel the sense of forgiving in my body, it relaxes, and I know all will be ok.
This idea of forgiving is particularly present around all the instant and constant digital messaging that sees us communicate more frequently, less face to face and often with an implied sense of urgency or pressure to respond. The days of a letter arriving and being opened with a swift letter opener and the satisfaction of the sound of paper being unfolded has practically disappeared in our modern day lives. We are poorer for it. Yet forgiving comes into play when messages wait unanswered on small lit up screens, stories can be composed and projected in our heads about why the receiver has not responded. I suggest we all adopt a forgiving and flexible approach to instant messaging. Everyone is doing their best to respond in ways that feel right for them at the time.
Where else will a forgiving approach help in life? Everywhere. In a queue in a supermarket, at the bank and riding public transport. Instead of feeling like we must put on a shield of defence when we go out, why can’t we put on an armour of love and forgiveness? Staying connected on a moment-to-moment basis with our day as it unfolds and wherever it may find us?
I spoke in an earlier blog post about how this attitude impacts how I drive. I don’t have to pull out first or feel that the car in front has cut me off because of spite or anything personal. How can I know what is going on for them? Have they just come from visiting a loved one in hospital? Have they just received upsetting news? The power of living in forgiving is great because it reminds us of our freedom to choose how we respond to any given situation. It helps us see each other for who we really are, flaws and all and thus affords us a deeper and richer relationship with self.