April 25, 2008

Forgiving in Advance

For years, I held on to anger, frustration, and bitterness. I could not forgive people who, in my perception, wronged me. And in parallel, I could not forgive my own mistakes and imperfections.

Zen study, as well as life experience, have helped me grow into a more forgiving person. I can see now how things that happened many years ago can trap me in the past, if I don't forgive. Forgiving is for myself, not for the other person, although it can repair relationships. Forgiving is not giving in, it is being strong. The weaker response is to hold on to grudges.

It's helped me in my parenting, and I hope my hubby would say, it's helped me in my marriage. Things I used to hold on to, and would create accumulated pain, don't effect me as much. I'm living much more in the moment. When problems arise, I can, although imperfectly, see how unfair it is to tie things in the far past into the now. Children who are growing and changing at lightening speeds make holding grudges nearly impossible. How silly it is to chastise a ten year old for how he behaved when he was five.

It's a window that gets smaller and smaller, as I learn to forgive things more quickly. The more practice I have in forgiving, the easier it comes.

What if, I could forgive at the very moment of a wrong-doing? What if I could forgive my children and my hubby at the moment that they do something I deem is painful, frustrating, or just plain wrong? Can I make the window that small?

And, is it possible, to go even farther, and to forgive before the wrong-doing even occurs? Is it possible to forgive in advance?

How freeing that would be, to forgive everyone in advance, so when things happen, I've already let go of the baggage that increases pain and suffering.

That will be my zen focus for this weekend: forgiving all the past, forgiving in the present, and forgiving in advance.


Lizabeth said...

I've found Byron Katie's Work to be exceptionally helpful for this. It's like she shows you the way, when you know you *should* forgive, but don't actually know how to get there.

JenPB said...

OOOH! I like this exercise! But can I do it? I was recently wronged in such a way that it adversely affected not just me, but the team of teen athletes I'd been coaching. I have found the bright side of the matter, but will I forgive? I try, but, wow, that really stung.

There's a fine line between forgiving and protecting yourself in the future, don't you think?

"I forgive you for robbing me blind, please come over for dinner." Not likely to come out of my mouth anytime soon.

Clearly I have a lot to work on!