Thinking about my moments in grade school and when I was in my elementary years playing with my cousins. We would all have our dolls, or be running in the playground to get to the swings first! Zooming down the slides and bopping on the monkey bars brought out all the fun and giggles needed to make a sunny spring day brighter.
And then it would happen.
As I’m running trying to get away from ‘it’ in our playful game of tag, completely miscalculating the area of safety, I collide with a foot from an exuberant friend on the swing. As soon as it hits my head I run screaming to the guardian, whether my aunt or teacher, and tell. The person in charge calls the culprit forward and tells them to say ‘sorry.’ I in turn, with my once rosed cheeks now stained with tears, am encouraged to say ‘it’s ok.’ Then we are directed to shake hands or hug and go back to playing…
…but the truth is it wasn’t always ok. I got hurt. I can still feel the bump on my head and now I’m no longer freely running on the playground, but rather sheepishly trying to avoid the stares from all the onlookers who witnessed the very vocal event. I wanted everyone to be upset with her because I was. Totally consumed with what happened and not wanting to go back to playing, now peering from the slidelines as though I can only see the events everyone else is enjoying, but restricted by my resentment from participating too, I sit and sulk…and pretty much miss the rest of our play time nursing my wound with only my hand and the occasional sniffle as balm.
It is this moment that the rich opportunity was missed. You see, for so long this two-step of ‘hurt’ and say ‘sorry’ was taught to be enough. That all the person had to do was say sorry for it to be enough, but what about the victim? They were encouraged to say ‘it’s ok,’ even before it wasn’t. And THAT is not ok. Herein lies where I want to turn this whole charade on its head.
Forgiveness really has little to do with the one who has hurt you, but so much to do with you who has been hurt. Yes, my story, which I’m sure for a few minor details many can relate to, did recount what had been done to me. but did you look at all that happened after the event was over? I missed out on the rest of playtime! I just sat and watched from the sidelines with the occasional sniffle that, now, no one was really noticing because they had moved on. The key to forgiveness is seeing how much you give yourself when you give it to others. Many times it is premature for I do believe that each person should be given the full right to feel how they feel, but they should also be shown how much more they can get once they come out of that place. Forgiveness is about giving to the one who hurt you so you can have your life back.
Forgiveness is about giving to the one who hurt you so you can have your life back. -Lydia Elle
What you give to the other person really is a by-product of what you are depositing within yourself. To forgive someone is to release them from the prison in your mind that recalls the bad experience, but sets you up to enjoy new ones also. You see, as I was sitting on the side watching, I was no longer playing. I was no longer laughing. I was no longer swinging, or climbing, or bopping. All I was doing was sitting. Sitting and watching.
The best way to teach forgiveness is to give the one hurt the opportunity to feel it. This is when you should be sitting and watching. Take a moment to understand the full extent of your pain so you know what it is you are about to give up. Take a moment to cry, and to be angry. To weep and get upset. Take this time so that you have the chance to feel what happened and then wipe your eyes.
When you wipe your eyes you should only then be called to confrount the culprit. You’ve had a moment to feel the experience and can articulate to them what the offense was. Then when they say ‘I’m sorry’ you can know that it covers all that you wanted to say. It is at this moment that the key to the lesson should be shared. Each child, or child at heart, should know that at this moment they have a choice: This is their opportunity to give them forgiveness so they can both go back to living. Without giving them this moment, you will rob yourself of a future life. A life where you are now just a spectator instead of an experiencer. A life where you nurse what happened with the time you have left instead of enjoying the new opportunities the playground of life has to offer.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel the pain. I get it, there are honestly some things that still sting when I think about them. Yes, even after forgiving sometimes you will have to deal with a hand that has a few less cards than you started with. I am sorry, if this is your lot, but I promise you if you give yourself a chance you will see that life can be so much better despite what has happened. Whatever you do, no matter how many breaks you need to take, how many pauses you need to have, do not stop.
Do not stop loving, stop laughing, stop living.
You see? Forgiveness is never really so the other person can go back to playing, but it is so that you can.