We humans have a tendency to stumble through our emotional lives, staggering between our selfish desires and our longing to guard the soft vulnerabilities of the people we love. Sure, there are monsters among us. The Hitlers, the Bundys, the Khans. But they are not us. Their dark souls will never know what it is to carry guilt. Their hearts will never feel the pain they press upon others. We do, sometimes intensely. It is what give us the power to forgive. We are more empathetic than we give ourselves credit for.
I was promoted at work. This week I jumped in with both feet. People have come and gone, interviewed for the job, and along the way – they all let me glimpse into their lives. I’m full of stories now. A grandparent who fought in WWII, a mother who had to bury her son, a man soothing his toddler by playing a Boss Scaggs CD in the car. And a woman who shyly shared with me that she did a foolish thing in her youth. I told her there was nothing to be ashamed of. I had my share of youthful foolishness too. I just never got caught. She thanked me for not judging her. How could I judge her? Not passing judgement is our way of sending forgiveness to a stranger.
Thrown into the middle of my glimpses sat two apologies. One last night from my far past. He had no idea I had long ago forgiven him but he still needed to hear that. He didn’t know that the damage was now a scar neatly knitted closed over the course of my life. Then came another apology this morning from someone so deeply close to me, and it came so quickly that I was still in shock and holding the wound tight to stop the bleeding. But it didn’t stop me from forgiving him. Right there, on the spot. Time to move on.
It doesn’t matter what the wrongs were. It doesn’t matter when they happened or how. We all find ourselves occasionally knocking on that door to selfish acts. If it opens, If we dare to go in, we run the risk of calaterial damage – to ourselves and to the people we love. It’s ok. We are human. As long as we remember that when we drink in the forgiveness offered us, we need to forgive ourselves.