Things in life can easily sneak up on you. I think most responsible adults know this. But the thing that steals your joy most often can be a real trickster. And no one is too young or old to learn the lesson below, so please read it, use it and pass it on.
I just learned this lesson that I must say keeps popping up over and over in my life. No matter how many times I “discover” this answer to all bad things in my life, it seems I must go down that road again.
Let me explain.
Yesterday was Easter and we (my husband, children and myself) attended church with my mother in law and extended family rather than going to our regular church, which just five minutes (or less) down the road. This church is much like home to me, since my husband grew up there and we have attended it for several years (off and on) while we have been married.
The service was lovely with a mixture of candlelight, spoken parts and musical performances. Everyone was well dressed and cordial. The coffee and donuts during intermission were fresh and tasty. But yet something did not feel right.
Somehow sitting among my family members and friends while holding my baby niece did not give me the peace I was expecting. It was a beautiful, sunny day and all was right in my world, so why did I feel anything other than peace?
Then, somewhere between pastor’s words and my niece plunging her new teeth into my hand, I had a revelation:
I still held bad feeling toward certain people in my life.
There is was. Plain as the nose on my face. In fact, some of the those people were sitting in church with me at that very moment.
Now, let me insert here that I thought I had wiped the slate clean and forgiven everyone in my life for every wrong (or perceived wrong) they had ever sent my way.
Then, a few years later I did it again.
Was there a third time? Hmmm………..
Anyway, while sitting in church I realized two things:
- I had not truly thought of everyone I needed to forgive. I needed to put in more effort and not forgive people in small batches, but forgive everyone. Even those I felt did not “deserve” it.
- Forgiveness is an ongoing thing.
- People are usually not against you, they are just for themselves. Just trying to survive, nothing personal.
So I made the decision to look around the church and make a mental inventory of every person I needed to forgive, then I did just that. I opened my heart and gave the forgiveness and love that was needed to make me feel harmonious.
The people who received my forgiveness never knew the difference. They felt no different after my epiphany. But I felt like a new person. In fact, the weight of the world lifted from me while I sat in that padded seat.
So here is my question to you: Do you need to grant forgiveness to people in your life?
If so, don’t follow the same misguided path as me.
Instead, make a list of every single person you have ever had a negative feeling toward. (Yes, even the stranger who skipped line at Starbucks this morning.) Take a couple days to compile this list if needed, because you want it to be complete.
Then, sit down and make the deliberate decision to forgive every one of them. And don’t just say it. Really mean it. Forgive every person for being human and not being perfect.
Sometimes it can be difficult to forgive people when they have done heinous things to you. When that happens, try to imagine them as a little baby that has not yet faced the trials of life that build up over time and cause people to mistreat others. Or imagine them in their underwear. Whatever it takes to grant them the forgiveness and you the serenity that you need.
Because you need this.
When you talk of simplifying our lives and minimalism, there is nothing better to throw in the trash than resentments and other bad feelings towards others.
I had this in my life and didn’t even see it right in front of my face. Could you be doing the same? Don’t let this be the thing that steals your joy.