To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. ~Lewis B. Smedes
I’ve been thinking about forgiveness a lot lately. Mostly forgiveness for myself. Every night I go to bed rolling back the tapes of the day-gone-by. And every night I have regrets. I beat myself up for things I said, or didn’t say, or mostly for what I posted and who it offended. The list is long.
Can you relate?
Human beings are complicated aren’t we? I honestly believe we are all interested in being the best versions of ourselves. I have yet to meet a person who wants to be less, learn less, grow less. We’re all just bouncing around on this little floating ball, trying to figure things out. And with each day, it seems to be more complicated.
What I once believed was true, is no longer true to me. What I once trusted, I no longer trust. The old way of doing things no longer works. Humans are divided, upset, afraid, and uncertain. I want to say more than ever, but I know that is not true. A look back at history reveals that humans hurt. We cause harm. To ourselves, and to each other. It seems to be how we are programmed.
The Yoga Sutras offer a suggestion. Ahimsa. Do no harm. It’s the “first commandment” of the ethical principals of yoga. When in doubt about all the other principals, defer back to this one. How am I causing harm, and how can I cause just a little less?
It looks good and easy on paper, three small words. But humans cause harm. Intentionally sometimes, and unintentionally all the damn time. We just do. Like right now. I am causing harm. By what I am NOT doing. By my consumption and consumerism. By my snarky posts on social media. By my self-absorption and the privilege I have to ignore important issues. By my negative self-talk. It’s endless, so I sigh, and acknowledge that I did, and do cause harm. And I vow to do a little less harm, right now.
So I ask you to forgive me. And I will work to forgive you. I will go to sleep tonight believing we are all struggling. We are humans and therefore fallible. We are all trying to make sense of a nonsense world right now. Tonight I will forgive myself. It’s hard being human. But let’s try.