This past summer I read an extensive book list I was trying to get through – as the summer came to a close many of the books that once captivated my attention have fallen aside, half read. I guess that’s why they say you shouldn’t try to read eight books at a time. As I prepared to pack my life up into one tangerine suitcase and a black jansport a few weeks ago I tried to fly through the last few chapters of a handful of these books because they couldn’t all come to Florida with me.
On of the books I was reading this summer was Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott. It was a little hard to get into, but she had some great lines about mercy, forgiveness, and grace. Sometimes when I’m offended or hurt by someone, in the position of needing to forgive, it’s helpful to have the reminder that:
- I’m not perfect and when I mess up I’m hopeful to get forgiveness so it’s important to forgive people when they mess up
- Forgiveness does more for you in terms of healing than holding a grudge.
In Hallelujah Anyway Anne Lamott writes; “Mercy is radical kindness. Mercy means offering or being offered aid in desperate straits. Mercy is not deserved. In involved absolving the unabsolvable, forgiving the unforgivable. Mercy brings us to the miracle of apology, given and accepted, to unashamed humility when we have erred or forgotten.”
Lamott suggests that the approach we can take to relationships and our lives is to be gracious at all time, forgiving as often as we can, and compassionate to the struggles and experiences of other. Compassion and empathy are key in relationships because it allows you to feel with others and understand them – added with grace when we mess up and they mess up you create a space for healthy relationships.
One of the things I’ve learned about forgiveness in my twenty-two years of life is that it gives you freedom to let go of the pain that initially hurt you. The happiest place to live is when we can honour the pain we have endured and move on from it. And forgiveness gives us the freedom to do just that.
When we are still feeling sadness, anger and resentment it means we are holding on to things that hurt us, which is okay while we are processing and grieving.
Another book on my reading list this past year was Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown. She wrote about pain and said “Pain will subside only when we acknowledge it and care for it. Addressing it with love and compassion would take only a minuscule percentage of the energy it takes to fight it, but approaching pain head-on is terrifying. Most of us were not taught how to recognize pain, name it, and be with it” and that when we have been hurt and we are living in our pain “anger and hate are our go-to emotions.”
It is easy to feel angry or hateful, but it does not free you from how you are feeling and it does not let you live in a place to move forward with your life. New opportunities can not come when you are in that place. Learning from failure cannot happen in that place. Reconciliation and the restoration of relationships cannot happen in that place.
When we are hurt we may be entitled to pain, justified in our hurt, and right to be angry – but it will hold us back from healing. As Brené writes “When we own our emotion, we can rebuild and find our way through the pain.”
Recognizing that everyone makes mistakes and hurts people’s feelings, including you, is okay. Part of the human experience is to feel hurt and sad and to learn to move past those feelings to create new moments for yourself and the people around you.
Yet another author from my summer reading list was the Canadian poet Rupi Kaur, one of my favourite poems she has written is short and simple but it illustrates what I’m saying concisely.
you look at me and cry, everything hurts
I hold you and whisper, but everything can heal
I wrote about forgiveness this week because its is important to think about everyday, because little offences can throw off a whole day, and big fights can impact meaningful relationships. Sometimes we get hurt and sometimes we accidentally hurt others. But practicing grace and forgiveness gives us hope and space to navigate those things. To see the best in people, to hold onto relationships when it feels hard, to heal our hurt.
The newest book on my reading list these days is one I started recently called Love Lives Here by Maria Goff. She wrote something that stuck me when I read it this weekend, “It won’t be the fires that destroy our lives and our faith. It will be obsessing over not getting burned again that will”. I think it can be easy to get our backs up, worry about getting hurt and not want to let go of the pain from things that have burned us but trust me on this one: mercy and forgiveness let you off the hook to find beautiful new beginnings.