It’s been a while since we had music in our house. We used to have a surround sound system for our TV – a relic of my husband Jon’s single days. It was hooked up to our CD player and computer network as well, so we could listen to our music on it. However, between spending two years TV-free, kids yanking on the speakers, our switch from CDs to iPhones, and on and on, we decided to get rid of the system. The result is that we haven’t had much music in our house for years.
Not long ago I bought a cheap little pair of speakers to listen to music on while I cleaned. While quiet may be conducive to working for me, it doesn’t really help me get moving when my kitchen is dirty. Jon couldn’t stand the way the music sounded on those speakers, though. He wanted better sound quality so he invested in a Sonos system. For about a month now we’ve had the speaker in our kitchen, which combined with an Rdio subscription means we can listen to pretty much whatever we want. I’ve been building playlists, and one day when I was looking for a different song I stumbled across “Beautiful Day” by Joshua Radin. I’ve been listening to Joshua’s music a lot since, but this first song I discovered is still my favourite:
(Side note – I also love Parenthood, the show it was featured on, but somehow I didn’t make the connection between the two until I found this YouTube video.)
One of the song’s verses contains these lyrics:
Gonna turn my enemies into friends
What’s broken gets stronger when it mends
When we all come together this song we’ll play
We’ll sing it’s a beautiful day.
I was standing in my kitchen one sunny morning about a week ago, having just dropped the kids off at school, and I turned the song on to get me in a good frame of mind for the day. As I sang along with that verse, I found myself choking up and crying. Something about those ideas, at that moment, on that day, just spoke to me on a deeper level. The theme of forgiveness was calling to me.
The truth is that I’m not a terribly forgiving person. I can let little infractions slide, and shrug off little annoyances … but only for so long. When those little things add up over time, or when someone does something that really hurts me, I have a hard time letting it go. And, unsurprisingly, the person I am hardest on is myself. I hang out with myself all the time. I have way more opportunities to annoy myself, get in my own way, or hurt myself than pretty much anyone else.
I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin right now, and I’d been thinking of doing my own happiness project in 2014. That morning in my kitchen, however, what I realized is that what I really need more of in my life is forgiveness. However, I honestly had no idea where to start. I wasn’t even sure I knew what forgiveness means. I decided to start by checking out the Wikipedia entry on forgiveness. It says this:
Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as revenge, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), pardoning (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge), forgetting (removing awareness of the offence from consciousness), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship).
I’ve read it over and over, and the truth is I’m still at a bit of a loss. I think you could say that what I generally do is excuse someone until I just can’t anymore, and then I hold a grudge. Oh boy, can I hold a grudge. I have a very good memory, so I can recall each and every transgression in very good detail, even decades later. I sometimes beat myself up over stupid things I did in high school, or even in elementary school. The fact that I wouldn’t hold my own eight-year-old responsible for her actions in the same way that I hold my own eight-year-old self responsible doesn’t really sway me.
I’ve found a bunch of documents online about what forgiveness is, and how to do it. I’ve found scholarly articles about self-forgiveness and its pitfalls. I’ve found spiritual articles about forgiveness, repentance and absolution. There’s no shortage of things to read that can help me. It’s a big task, though, and I think it’s going to take a long time.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a blog theme I’ve stuck with for a while. I had Mat Leave Mondays for a long time, and then I moved to Crafting my Life Thursdays, which became Enviro-Mama Thursdays. While I still care about all of those things, and I absolutely still write about green living because it’s important to me, I’m ready to embrace a new theme. This time it will be Forgiveness Fridays.
I need help in getting started. I’m hoping you’ll share your thoughts about forgiveness. Are you good at it – and can you offer me any ideas to get me started? Have you read any books or found any resources that were helpful? Do you find it harder to forgive yourself than to forgive others, like I do? What benefits do you feel when you forgive? I want to hear it all. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!