When I was younger, I never understood my mom.
“Maddy, you just need to rise above. Be the bigger person,” she would preach continually, “Kill them with kindness.”
I always remember her as possessing the amazing ability to be completely gracious and loving whenever she was met with hatred, including hatred from me. And let me tell you, I was awful. I would fight her like crazy about everything I could, always trying to get a rise, but she would meet my snares with grace and poise. To this day I can’t imagine how many times she must have wanted to just slap some sense into me and how damn HARD it must have been to turn the other cheek.
It annoyed me to no end back in my high school days, when I was a hormonal teenager constantly reeling from the drama and heartbreak that was high school; the last thing I could think about was forgiveness. Why should I have to be nice to someone who repeatedly made me feel so small? Repeatedly made me the bane of their mean jokes? Repeatedly sent me driving home in tears after school, only to be met by the same message of my mother--Be the bigger person?
It wasn’t until this past year that I found real truth in that mundane advice. I’m not sure exactly what made everything click into place, I don’t think it can be pinned to one event so much as a series of life lessons, but I suddenly found myself with the strange ability--and more significantly, the WANT--to look my foes in the face and see nothing but love and forgiveness. Step by step, I began to forgive others in the face of their adverse words toward me, vowing not to let anyone impede on my sense of self-worth again.
I would be lying if I said I haven’t been hurt by people lately, though. I’ve been hurt by friends who have failed to show up reminding me how little they care about my life, by boys who I know don’t have my best interest at heart, by people I shouldn’t even have to worry about. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel hatred toward their actions and their words.
And let me tell you, darling, hatred will eat. You. Up. It starts small, but soon turns into paranoia, creating anxiety and spreading darkness to corners of your life you didn’t know it could affect. It’s tiring. It’s aggravating. And it stops at no end. There is a constant want to feel better with no sign of relief from the chains that seem to hold you down. Luckily, we were graced with forgiveness in this life.
Forgiveness is both wonderfully freeing and the hardest thing to accomplish.
It takes courage to look at someone who has hurt you, feel the wave of everything they have done, everything they have said, every negative thing they have made you feel course through your veins just as raw and painful as when it happened… and forgive them. To say to them, whether through words or simply in your thoughts, It’s okay. I love you. I’m praying for you. I want nothing but happiness and joy for you in your lifetime. You hurt me, but your words and actions have no power in my life. Words cannot define me and opinions cannot determine my success.
Only when we are able to say that, with total confidence and peace, are we able to live a free life.