Sunday, August 11, 2013

On the Power of Choosing Forgiveness

Today I had a discussion about staying soft in a hard world.

Which is funny, considering that I just posted about my love for crusty people. One of the women mentioned that she doesn't feel like being tender or feminine is a beneficial trait in her career field. She asked, "How do we stay soft in a world that could easily harden us?"

My answer was swift and clear as glass: we forgive.

I think the ability to immediately forgive is something God blessed me with from a young age. If I ever got in fights with my older brother (see photo below of him in a tank top and me with my chubs) when I was little, it took all of 10 minutes before I was knocking on his door and asking if we could play again. I've just never seen any benefit or logic in staying angry. I also innately trust everyone, unless there is a very clear and valid reason (e.g. safety) to keep my distance. People are friends by default; there is nothing about my love that anyone needs to earn. It is the way of me.

Life can do a lot to damage a forgiving heart.

The older I got, the more opportunity I had to get my feelings hurt and my heart bruised and trust violated and friendships bent and relationships broken. Plenty of people play the mean, competitive game in the career world and are rewarded for it by way of salary and position. There have been so (SO) many times when I feel like trusting, being candid and seeing the best in people has only come back to kick me in the face. There are moments when it seems like the answer would be to put up walls, to shut people out, to make people carefully earn my trust and my friendship and my love. If you don't let anyone in, they don't have an opportunity to hurt you.

But I never feel more hurt and broken than when I let life tell me there's no point to an open heart.

I don't feel like myself when my heart is bristly and stony. I feel so far from me, so far from the people around me, and so far from God. I simply find no value in being a cautious lover or a hesitant friend. I made a decision, at some point, that my childlike, innately trusting heart is not something I'm going to let the devil have. Come what may by way of contention and trial -- that's one precious, soft part of me I don't plan on changing or surrendering. Yes, it opens me up to being hurt; but also to the richest, best kinds of unconditional love.

And so, I choose to keep believing in it. I believe in choosing to trust, choosing to forgive quickly, choosing to love without hesitation. I believe in being quick to apologize, in being the first one to end the conflict. I don't always practice it perfectly, but I believe in choosing to try my best at it. On that same note, I believe in looking inward with less critical eyes and learning to forgive and wholeheartedly trust myself as well.

Sometimes people ask what they'd want to be doing if the Savior were to appear, or if they were to meet God today. I think if I can be found with an olive branch in one hand and holding on to a faltering friend with the other, then I've done all I've set out to do.


Mandy Ballard said...

Your last paragraph brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful and perfectly you. And, as a very imperfect older sister, I am forever grateful you have a forgiving heart because if you would have shut me out because of my meany-head big sister ways back in the day, I would have missed out on having you for one of my very best friends and that would have just been stinky. ;)

Alicia Hanley said...

I love this so much. I think we should always put are hearts out there and trust others rather than miss out on life and the oppurtunity to have people change you for the better.

Myke Olsen said...

I too have been blessed with a soft heart. But for some reason forgiving, at least recently, hasn't been something that I've been great at. It feels like forgiveness is there beneath the pain, but sometimes I don't know how to let that pain go. I read this post yesterday and I've been thinking about forgiveness, and it seems like there is a relationship between forgiving myself and letting go of the pain caused by other people. I can't explain that just yet but it's something I want to get to the bottom of.