I read this quote in a book; “forgive everybody everything.” You’d be surprised at how those three words make you think. My first thought was, ‘well, how does a person do that; forgive everybody everything? What about the time that <insert the unforgivable something someone did to you, etc.>? That was terrible! I can never forgive that!’
But really—how does hanging onto hurt make anyone any better? There is no value in hoarding our hurts, outrages, and hating all those who ‘done us wrong.’ It won’t fix anything, nor will it affect in any way the person that caused it to happen.
Do we really get anywhere from sitting around and holding all our hurts inside? Doing that is like ignoring the mold in your bathtub. Before you know it, the mold has crept up the tile walls, around the faucets, and heads for the ceiling. Inevitably, that mold, left unchecked will rot everything in its path.
Stubbornly holding onto all those slights and hurts will eventually turn you into a lonely and bitter shell of who you used to be. Worst of all, you may lose your way to becoming the you that you could have been; happy, whole, loving, joyous, exuberant and glad for every moment. What a loss, what a shame.
I often wonder what God thinks of us when we do this. My own personal picture of God is this: a *Dumbledore-ish sort of old man with laugh wrinkles around His eyes, looking at each of us with love and full understanding, wanting us so badly to have a good and happy life.
I picture Him holding our hands, looking into our eyes and saying, “c’mon now, this isn’t why I sent you to Earth; I never wanted you to be miserable and resentful; I want you and everyone else to enjoy your lives, make the most of your unique talents, find love and happiness, and most of all—know how deeply loved you are. You are on Earth to love and to be loved.”
It’s impossible to hold love and forgiveness (by the way, it is full forgiveness that sets us free) in a heart filled with resentment, hurt, worry and fear. It’s the old story about the pitcher filled with mud; you cannot drink clear fresh water out of it until you clean the pitcher and refill it with fresh water.
From my own mistakes in holding onto old hurts, I’ll tell you this: don’t waste your time. Ever hear someone drone on and on and on about all the bad things in their lives? It’s bad enough that you have to listen to this sad and useless litany, but it drags you down right along with them.
I used to work with a woman who had a terrific sense of humor—once you got to know her. But until you did get to know her, she was gloomy, often bitter, and bored the pants off people with her tales of woe about this, that, or the other thing.
As we worked in the same department, we ended up often working on the same projects. Once she opened up, she was like a gorgeous flower in the desert. Her usual “**Eeyore” demeanor disappeared, and she was a funny and delightful friend. But how sad that she only showed that delightful side to one or two people!
So here’s what I’m working on each day: just let go and forgive everybody everything. This does not mean that you become a doormat. It means that you have chosen to rise above, and truly forgive. The hard part is to then forget. That’s the part I’m still working on.
Wish me luck!
*Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witches and Wizards, from the Harry Potter series.
**One of Pooh’s friends from the “Winnie the Pooh” stories by Alan Alexander “A. A.” Milne.