While driving home from the grocery store, I listened to a moving podcast, in which a murderer and the father of the victim had a conversation. The murderer was 14 years old at the time of the killing, and he was pressured by a gang to rob and shoot the man’s teenage son. It was heartbreaking. The amazing thing was that the father, talking in a calm, warm voice, sincerely forgave his son’s murderer. I can’t imagine having such a big heart.
The father said that “forgiveness is a gift you give yourself,” and I can understand that it is better to forgive than to bear the burden of hatred and vengefulness. Still, I can’t fathom finding the strength to forgive in such a horrible situation.
I wonder if I have silently forgiven everyone in my life for their transgressions, all of which are minor by comparison, or if I have held onto grudges. I wonder if I have forgiven myself for my countless mistakes. (I know the answer to the latter – “No!”).
What holds me back from forgiving myself? I think I have the misdirected feeling that my guilt keeps me in line…that if I continue to be ashamed of my errors, I will never repeat them. And the shame comes from vanity; I don’t want anyone to judge me poorly for my blunders. Of course, I can’t control anyone else’s thoughts, but I can influence my own.
It is important to take responsibility for my actions, to learn from my mistakes and to make amends. I do these things to the best of my ability. It is also important to forgive, to let go, and to move on. I’m working on it.
If the father could forgive his son’s murderer, I could forgive myself for my blunders. (I have been dwelling on one this morning.) Well, then, now is the right time to start trying.