I have two choices in this life, so I have learned. I can let things go and be set free, or I can hold on and hinder myself in the process. I can forgive and reign in life, or I can not forgive, and remain in misery. It’s a stark option, one which pits a man between striving in the prison or thriving in the palace. This year, I have learned to choose the latter, but it was a challenging choice to make.
I was afraid for much of the time in my life. I was convinced that the world was a scary place, one in which I had to keep my guard up. The root of this reticence, however, is reproach, a sense of shame for the wrongdoing that I have done, to myself or others. When I receive forgiveness for what I had done, I have no problem forgiving others.
For the past year, I have stood up to some sobering realities in my life. The death of a close relative, the loss of a job, the resurgence of old and lingering hurts: all of it seemed too much for me. Then I reconciled with distant loved ones, come to terms with what I really want in life, and I have come to believe that all things do indeed work out for the best.
A close loved one had abused me, which I did not realize until recently. I had told her that I forgave her, I let this person go, but she was not willing to forgive herself, and she passed away. I am a direct witness to this truth: condemnation kills, and those who have hurt others in the past will unfortunately end up hurting themselves more.
A student had played a dirty trick on me, pretending to be someone else. When I confronted the kid, he snidely admitted that he lied, then fled. I wrote him up, but nothing happened. Life is too short, I decided. Let it go. Later that month, I saw the kid in another class. After three warnings for disruptive behavior, I told him to leave. Immediately, he jumped out of his seat and cried, “This guy’s being trying to get me in trouble for the past three weeks!” Two things I learned: I got away with forgiving him, but he did not get away with anything.
Another student had troubled me for six weeks in one class; every day I threw him out; he lied about me to everyone. When I left, I had to let it go. Nine months later, I confronted him, saying, “I forgive you.” Next day, he shook my hand, the best kid in class.
When I look at all that I have been through, including what I have put other people through, I realize that God is not through with me, and He has more than comforted me in all that I have endured. In effect, I have gotten away with so much, and I am getting so much more for all that I have lost. As for those who hurt me, well, I believe that they are not getting away with anything. I do not say that to gloat or grouse, but to offer a final pardon, so to speak.
If anyone out there believes that they have done me any wrong, you do not have to make things right. I forgive you, the slate is clean. I choose to live the “Let Go” life. I hope you do, too!
To put it simply: Be a king who forgives, not a prisoner who cannot.