I am happy.
People may say that it’s easy to talk about forgiveness when you have had a happy life and an idyllic childhood. That may be true. I have had happiness in my life and parts of my childhood were idyllic. But not all of it.
And it’s the bits that were far from beautiful that I am thinking about when I talk about forgiveness. I have been hurt – intentionally, and it is not pleasant. But it has passed and is now in my past. I have to forgive.
In certain instances I have also had to confront the issues and people head on before I could forgive and move on. What works for me may not always work for you.
However, one thing that I do know is that when you forgive and let go you are lighter. The animosity that lines your life is stripped away like steaming layers of old bumpy wallpaper off to reveal clear smooth walls. Forgiveness is a gift to self because it is cleansing. Some people may never know that you have forgiven them; if this is your choice then it is enough for you to know and feel the weight dropping off. I have also chosen to forgive and keep silent about it. Both ways have worked well for me.
To me forgiveness is like throwing the sandbags over the edge of a gas-fired hot air balloon and being free to soar to new heights. The things that once weighed me down I have thrown them overboard from my life so that I can gain new heights. When things in my life were bumpy it took me some time to see that to move to the next level I needed to let go – I was being pulled across rocks and rough ground because I held on to the hurt. I felt it was deep hurt that I could never let go – but I could and now I have.
In athletic competition a hammer thrower will step into the throwing circle and using all their strength they will manoeuvre the hammer around and around their body until they get to the point where it is no longer sensible to hold on – they just have to let go. With a final twist and lift they shift the weight, contorting the body until the pressure has reached it maximum point, then they will wind it through that final movement before they exhale and release the hammer into the sky.
Bend, lift, and twist.
At the moment of release all the effort of holding on is transferred into the hammer and with gusto it flies away, over the shoulder, into the distance. Arms are outstretched, toes are pointed. All the bending and twisting of holding on to the hammer has finished. Often the moment of release is accompanied by a shout of accomplishment: the goal in that intense moment has been achieved. Forgiveness is a hammer thrown into the depths of oblivion - into the past; forgiveness, like the hammer thrower’s effort, is a job well done.
Then the thrower walks out of the circle the opposite way from the thrown hammer. I too walk away from the pain that I have discarded when I threw it skywards with forgiveness.