No, I don’t mean so in the sense that I have two left feet or anything. I’m talking about the type of grace my childhood ballet classes did not teach.
There’s this song by now-defunct metal band Underoath called “Some Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape.” Its lyrics approach the subject of forgiveness from the bent that some people run from it because they don’t know how to give or accept it.
People who can’t forgive are called “ungraceful” in the song because they’re not quick to extend grace to others.
“Hey, Unfaithful, I will teach you to be stronger/Hey, Ungraceful, I will teach you to forgive one another … ”
I am continually working on becoming more graceful.
Forgiveness is hard.
Even if you do manage to forgive someone who has wronged you, it can be very hard to forget what he or she said or did.
Forgiving someone can at times be easier said than done, but making an effort to try is very important.
Why? Unforgiveness eats you alive.
Not being able to forgive eats away at you. It’s a slow process, but it’s also a devastating one because living in the past can keep you from focusing on your present and future.
When I was around middle-school age, I had some kids repeatedly tell me I was worthless and would never amount to anything.
What helped me amount to something when I got older was learning to ignore untrue words and forgive those who feel the need to tear me down.
Yes, I was hurt by what they said. But I have spent the rest of my life after that living in such a way that I believe has proven them wrong — wherever they are now.
At some point, I realized that people hurt others out of their own insecurities. What has been done to you is not a reflection of you. It is a reflection of them.
What IS a reflection of you is what you decide to do when someone wrongs you. You have two main choices. You can agree with them, or you can disagree. It really is that simple.
I disagreed because I knew my own worth. For example, I may have spent more time than most kids sitting alone with a notepad and pen, but I knew even then that my writing could amount to something one day.
While I am currently writing newspaper articles and columns instead of the short stories and could-be novels flowing from the ink back then, I can look back and see that my experiences shaped who I grew up to be.
Back to forgiveness.
Before I could really move on from the impact of the hateful words, I had to forgive. I tried to put myself in these kids’ places and imagine their insecurities — the things that were making them do what they did. That helped me realize what they had said to me was simply not true.
It took some time, but I worked up the nerve to tell one boy I had forgiven him. He promptly rejected that and started flinging new insults, but I had done my part to extend a hand of forgiveness. I had said my piece; it was time to walk away.
I could not change how the boy and his gang saw me, but I did change my own life that afternoon. I decided what he said wasn’t true and forgave him for his mistake. I then felt free to live my own life and ignore the hatred that had been expressed to me.
The sad fact is that some people will always find reasons to express hate. That does not mean you have to listen to them.
Forgiving someone does not mean the person who wronged you will automatically become remorseful, but it does help you overcome what happened.
It is often said the best thing to do is “forgive and forget.” I disagree with the second part of that. My life’s experiences have taught me important lessons I want to remember because I am stronger than I was when those things first happened.
However, I do think it is important to make sure that you do not hold a grudge against someone. The person who wronged you likely does not care if you make the decision to hold it against them. All it really does is hurt you.
Fortunately, you can control whether or not something someone has said or done to you will rule your life.
Maybe this doesn’t quite apply to you because you’re on the other side of forgiveness. Maybe you have done something you think may have hurt another person and are thinking you need to apologize. I say it’s never too late to do so.
A lot of time might have passed since the action took place, and it is possible that the other person may have forgotten it if it was something relatively minor.
But if you can admit you were wrong, I believe most people will respect you more for your humility. Plus, you’ll have begun to try to make things right.
The bottom line is that we all need to learn how to forgive and ask for forgiveness. You cannot change someone else, but you can change yourself and how you interact with others.
Hey, Ungraceful ... If you can do that, you will definitely be glad you did.