forgiving ourselves

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

― Maya Angelou

Forgiveness is a complex topic. Even though you may think you know what it is, consider “googling” the word and see what you get.

Probably the most important quote I ever happened upon was essentially (paraphrased), to forgive another is to set ourselves free. I have also read and heard about the importance of forgiving ourselves.

It is a seemingly simple concept – to forgive oneself. However, it isn’t necessarily easy to forgive yourself when you cannot find what you may have done “wrong” in a relationship or experience. I have spent the last several months reconciling a period in my life where I perceived I was more a victim than one who truly had the ability to make a different choice. My journals are filled with pages of curiosity about this very situation and related forgiveness topics.

So, for me, it all comes down to how I see myself.

I’m quite sure that a few among you are quite good at “shoulding” on yourself. I know that I used to be an expert. I’ve spent loads of quiet time reflecting on  the things I should have done in many roles – daughter, sister, spouse/partner, parent, friend, colleague, and…you get the picture. I was quite good at shaming myself over choices made in the past that if made today, would be very different and might likely have very different outcomes.

Today, after seeing a small group of protestors on a street corner, I was reminded of a choice I made many years ago. I almost went after myself about that choice, when I remembered Maya Angelou’s paraphrased quote – when you know better, you do better. Indeed she may very well have spoken those exact words. However, when I went looking for the quote to use it and properly attribute it to her, I found the one above. In that moment, I knew that I had done the very best that I could – what I knew how to do – in many of the choices I made earlier in my life and even today!

Consider the voice in your head. Mine has been very harsh over the years. Today it is softer  – accepting, supportive and loving – and I have more peace. Until I remember something I did in the past that I would do very differently today, and then I am reminded of another unseen experience, perhaps a wounded place within, that is still awaiting my loving attention to heal it. That voice, with all of its intentions to protect me, can still be awakened!

Today, I forgive myself for choices made which would be different; and for the attendant outcomes that may have left others in less than optimal condition (and I may still be a bit harsh on myself here). After all, healing is a process. I am apparently still in this process as I continue to soften the edges of old beliefs which informed those decisions.

May we soften our perspectives, our beliefs, our judgments – first, about ourselves. For in the softening here, we offer more genuine love to others. And surely we know how much love is needed in the world today.

Whatever you honor or celebrate this weekend – Spring, Easter, Passover – take a moment to honor yourself. Honor your intentions to be the very best you can be – for yourself and for others.

“…behold, all things have become new.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

From my personal photo library.

8 thoughts on “forgiving ourselves

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