For the past month I’ve put Unfettered on the back burner. I keep having ideas and really want to work on it, but it made more sense to work on my short fiction for a bit. The theme of Unfettered is forgiveness. But this post isn’t about my book – it’s an explanation, a confession, and a profession.
I can explain …
Just before Thanksgiving, at my great aunt’s 85th birthday party, a cousin made a statement about how she had taught him to fight to forgive and that this is one of the most important things we can do. (See, I deliver even if it takes a while – I said I’d write about this).
When I first had the idea for Unfettered about five years ago, this quote by Lewis Smede struck me:
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
Apparently I’m really hung up on this quote, because I mentioned it last January too when I was working on Syzygy. Also, forgiveness must be something I struggle with because I’ve talked about it here and here too.
I have known deep pain. There have been injuries to my body and soul that are irreparable. The course of my life was forever changed. Forgiveness is not forgetting – it’s being free from those events so that they no longer control you.
I confess …
There’s another quote by Madeline L’Engle that I read years and years ago: “Hate hurts the hater more than the hated”.
We parse words with intensity levels, but really if we were honest there are probably things and people we all hate aka dislike intensely.
There have even been times for me when I’ve been hateful but not had a good reason. Sometimes I’ve harbored anger in my heart and replayed wrongs against me over and over – again, for no good reason. I do my best to not be petty and to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I fail at times.
On Twitter a while back someone posted that they say to themselves every day, “May I forgive those who have hurt me and may those whom I have hurt forgive me.” After a few months of doing this, they said it made a difference for them.
I try to do this. I have a long way to go.
I used to be more zen. I meditated every morning and evening. When something really bothered me, I would meditate until it didn’t.
The concept of attachments and desires injuring us is very striking to me. Letting go of some of those attachments and desires instantly solves the problem, but it’s not easy to do. Sometimes forgiving and letting go is easier for me if I can put myself in the other person’s shoes and understand their motivation.
Recently I discovered The Gottman Institute. Their relationship advice has made an impact on me. This article about empathy and listening is something that transcends romantic relationships to be effective with all human relationships.
Let me end by sharing with you a mantra I have used: