By the time you read this, we will have just passed Easter, which is my favourite holiday. Christians believe it is the day when Jesus died on the cross to absolve us of our sins.
This brings to mind the issue of forgiveness. As another component in the happiness project, forgiveness plays a large role. It’s been shown that people who have forgiven those who wronged them are happier and healthier. There’s also the Christian concept that God will forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Part of the healing that this forgiveness brings is based on the fact that we are not dwelling on the wrongs that we’ve experienced. Also our hearts and minds become relieved of the anger and resentment we might harbour.
I’m not exactly sure what forgiveness is, but I have an idea that it means being at peace with the person who wronged us. It could also mean not seeking any justice or revenge, trusting that justice will come from the Universe, God, the Creator. Emerson’s essay on compensation states that we will receive good to make up for ills done upon us. By not seeking revenge, we leave it to God or the Universe to avenge or compensate us.
I’ve been severely wronged by a handful of people. Some I’ve forgiven and others I have not. When I cross paths with those I have not forgiven, my heart hardens and my whole body becomes tense, my blood pressure rises, and I can feel the anger in my mind and in my heart. This isn’t good for me and I know it would be better to let go of these feelings. I’m really just harming myself. And, of course, I’d like to be forgiven of my sins, the great and little ones by the people I have harmed. On a daily basis my sins are small. They are mainly the result of my impatience with people who delay me, as though somehow those few minutes of wasted time are of great value, more valuable than peace of mind.
Oddly enough, my greatest and worst sins have been committed upon people that I loved the most. I dearly crave that I be forgiven by people I have hurt. I dream of having the relationship we could have had if we had been more mindful of hurting the other rather than feeling our own hurt at a careless word or deed. While I might not be strong enough right now to forgive everyone, I will strive to not create any more breaks in my relationships. I will strive to understand what caused someone to hurt me, understanding what their thoughts, motives, and sometimes just oblivion might have been. I’ve also noticed that if I refuse to forgive someone, there is a good chance that I will commit the same injury upon someone else, and I end up seeing how easy it is to make that error. Knowing that makes it possible to forgive those who have harmed me. Likewise, if I carelessly hurt someone, it’s likely that the same unfortunate thing will be done to me, so that I can feel how I’ve hurt someone else.
My goal is to free myself from the anger I hold against some people so that my heart can soar, rather than being burdened by a black stone. So that’s my next step towards happiness – to start by forgiving one person at a time. Where would you start?’
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.