Monday, June 14, 2010


It's a topic that's been on my mind a lot lately. Not just because of current events, but because of what I've been doing in my own life.

I have been taking part in an 8-week group study on forgiveness sponsored by Iowa State University. The purpose of the program is to examine long-term benefits of how being able to forgive past offenses leads to an improvement in the quality of one's own life. Without going into details or breaking any confidentiality, what it boils down to is that forgiveness is a process and a skill that must be practiced in order to become a part of your life, and that holding onto grudges only makes you more miserable in the long run. I find that a very interesting approach, and I saw significant improvements in outlook and demeanor over the course of those 8 weeks.

In the other people in the group.

I, on the other hand, apparently didn't do so well. The others were able to make significant inroads into letting go of their pain and the hurt they'd endured. But as we were saying our good-byes to the group in the final session, I--to my surprise--was the most emotionally upset person in the group. And the others made it clear they could see how much it had hurt me to recall the offenses and humiliations in my own life, and how much they admired me for sticking it out to the end.

Which frankly surprised me. I felt the others had far more trauma to overcome, and were in need of much more help than I was.

Maybe I've underestimated how badly it affected me. Maybe I need to reconsider how much I'm still hurting myself.

And maybe I need to look at other examples. The call at first base by Jim Joyce to take a perfect game away from Armando Galaraga of the Tigers is a great example. He admitted he screwed up, said he was sorry, and the Tigers and their fans forgave him because of his honesty.

The forgiveness study isn't just on how to forgive others, either. It's about how to learn to forgive yourself. We all have secret and public shame in our lives. My upbringing ensured my thought process was conditioned to focus at my transgressions rather than to put them into perspective. I've been beating myself up for so long, it's hard to imagine any other way. And I really am trying to do what it takes and pull out of that tailspin.

But it's hard, people. So forgive me if it takes a while.

1 comment:

Aunt Becky said...

We ALL must forgive. I've spent years trying to forgive myself. I still work on it. Without forgiveness, we carry hate in our hearts. I don't want to carry any more hate in my heart.