So, forgiveness, huh? Yeah, about that. Let me tell you, it is way easier to give some lessons than to receive them. This week Tiny Daughter and I have been talking a lot about the need for forgiveness. She is a natural grudge holder and I have been trying to convince her that holding those grudges hurts her much more than the other person, and that she will be happier if she learns to forgive people. Y’know, basic standards that A) I truly believe and B) all parents and supposed to try to teach their kids.
And most of the time I believe it. Most of the time forgiveness is not a big struggle for me. I tend to get angry quickly and easily, but I get over it quickly as well. Most of the time. And then there are days like today. Today I discovered that someone who I believed was a mentor sabotaged me professionally. I liked her, I respected her; although not part of our congregation, she is one of the tiny steps that brought be to my UU fellowship, and I am terribly, terribly hurt.
I don’t want to forgive her. I want to nurse my wound in self-righteous wrath. I feel betrayed and I have earned that emotion. I want to stay angry at her. I want to enjoy her suffering. None of that is any kind of good idea. None of it really hurts her or affects her in any way. I feel like I am inside the moral lesson I was trying to teach my daughter and if I really mean it, I have to live it. If I really believe in compassion and connectivity I have to let it go. The pain won't get any smaller if I feed it. If I really believe in forgiving the human failings of others, I have to include her in that forgiveness.
I’m not totally naïve or dumb, so I don’t have to trust her in the future. I am no longer in a position where she can affect me professionally, but we will continue to deal with each other and network in the same industry. I learned a great deal from her in our previous working relationship; now I have learned from her how not to treat others. I suspect I will be working on this for a little while, so here is the first step.
I forgive you. Whatever happened in the past is done. I forgive you.