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Somewhere in my life I came to the conclusions that words have little to no meaning. I did not value promises or verbal commitments. I learned to question everything I heard. Even words written on a paper, especially those written for the purpose of binding a contract held little weight. As a result, I became a man of few words. I took the stance that my actions would say everything that I needed to communicate.
My position on the value of words begin to soften throughout the years; primarily, as a result of many trouble relationships. The differing communication styles, me choosing to lead by example and those I engaged needing to express themselves verbally caused great conflict. I begin to work towards being more communicative.
In my marriage, I had achieved a level of expression that made me uncomfortable. There were moments when I dominated conversations, and even became argumentative. This level of verbal engagement was a sharp turn from previous forms of expression. It was likely too much as I did not realize how much was pent up in my soul. Saying too much can be just as dangerous as saying too little.
However, two of the most powerful words known to anyone were still very difficult for me to use. Promise and apologize. Offering a promise presented a challenge. It was a personal offense when someone used this word, which signified the highest level of commitment, then brushed aside the necessary follow through with no regard. I was committed to not being that guy. I would not use this word unless I was absolutely sure that I was willing to give all of me towards achieving the commitment. In the event that I failed, the evidence would be clear that everything within my resources would have been expelled before I stopped trying.
The latter, apologize, is just a cleaver way of saying, “I’m sorry.” I forced “sorry” from my vocabulary long ago as I did not want to be associated with anything that was sorry, weak, insufficient, compromised, or lacking. Sorry was impossible for me to articulate, and an apology was not much easier to share. For me, it meant that either the act that would beg an apology had some intentionality or that the person apologizing could have altered the outcome. Both should be rare situations, so an apologize should seldom be rendered, in my opinion. This stance made me appear cold and callus.
On the morning of this recording, several months ago, I was feeling extremely apologetic. There was a flood of emotions as I could visually see all of the people that I needed to apologize to. Our marriage was over and I knew clearly the part that I played in the demise. There were people equally committed to our success and others dependent upon our success that would be affected by the outcome. Although I am much better at communicating, as I have a new appreciation for the value of words, I still find it difficult to apologize. Yet to all those I have hurt as a result of my decision to divorce my spouse, to them and to her, I Need to Apologize
Here is my thesis. Life is about giving, and love is at the top of the list. In fact, I believe that all of creation is about the revolving, interconnecting circles of Light, Life and Love. Genesis 1 and 2 support my thesis. The Sanskrit poem Bhagavad Gita supports my thesis. Therefore, success or fulfilling our purpose in creation, in my opinion, comes through the velocity of how we give.
You have heard that you reap what you sow. Some of us are familiar with the parable of the fig tree where Jesus condemned the tree for not producing any fruit after being given adequate seasons to “let go.” How about: God gave His only begotten son, so that … we could have everlasting life? Giving is clearly a life principle.
So my argument begs the question, ‘why is it so hard to for-give or let go?’ I suggest we first consider the motivation for holding on.
We keep things mostly out of comfort or familiarity or fear. It is easier to work within the confines of our experiences or hold on to the successes that we already have – no matter how outdated these may be. Worse, we sometimes hold on to whatever it is because we fear that it will never be replaced, or we will not get anything in return.
For-give-ness is the extreme active of giving. The literally meaning is the most intense form of give. No wonder it is so hard for most of us.
For some it is challenging to give a greeting, like ‘hello’ or ‘good morning.’ Others find it hard to give a donation to a worthy cause or tithe to their religious organization. Forget about giving a thoughtful gift to co-worker, classmate, or acquaintance where there will likely not be an exchange.
Giving only seems to be easy when reciprocity is in order. It is much more likely to occur when the exchange will result in a reciprocal physical act, tangible item, or pleasant feeling. But, we know that forgiving someone of a past or present hurt, disappointment or betrayal will not involve either of the aforementioned.
We hold onto hurt as we do our greetings to strangers or gifts for a co-worker because we cannot see ‘what’s in it for me.’ We know, and do not care, that it makes no sense. It makes about as much sense as holding onto clothes that you don’t wear, rather than donate them to a shelter that houses battered women who escaped their abusive relationships – likely without anything but their lives.
Truth is we will benefit from offering forgiveness. The benefits are subtle and often overlooked and undervalued, but they are there for us. It is like saying good morning to strangers even though they seem to never respond. It is very similar to offering to purchase lunch for the person on the corner with the sign, even if they really just want the money. It is just as important as cleaning out your closets on a routine basis and donating the clothes to shelters or churches that provide for people you will likely never meet.
The benefit is greater than you, but for you also. When you forgive there is a burst of positive energy that envelopes you and everything about you. When you greet a stranger, I assure you they carry that throughout their day and will eventually bless someone else with your kindness. When you give that faded sweater, out of date jeans, or too tight wardrobe away someone is grateful to have clean clothes to cover their wounds as they begin their life anew. The same goes for saying I forgive you- even if the person will never hear it from you.
Saying I forgive you means that you hear it and you become transformed throughout your day and life. The strange gesture as with the greeting will free you to bless someone else. Saying I forgive you provides a new emotional wardrobe, internal grace that reflects your outward act that says you cared enough about someone else to give what you could no longer hold onto.
For me, my thesis holds true. It is when we share our light, sacrifice the comforts of our life, and embody love that we are living out our purpose in creation. Forgive.