I’ve never been skilled in the act of forgiveness. In retrospect, withholding forgiveness has been the mechanism through which I can exercise control and maintain my emotional armor. It’s been my most reliable method of ensuring unbounded protection through constant vigilance. The problem with armor, though, is that it becomes heavy after while. It weighs down on our shoulders, tugging the blades of our backs apart, slowly tearing us through our heart’s center, ruining us from the inside.
With time, it becomes clear that withholding forgiveness and remaining vigilant does nothing for us. It provides us no solace and ensures no comfort; instead, our vigilance turns into paranoia, and the armor that we once viewed as protection becomes a burden that benefits no one and likewise, hurts no one else but ourselves.
But I believe that we don’t actually owe anyone else forgiveness. Instead, we owe forgiveness to no one but ourselves. Forgiveness nurtures our souls because it comes from within, similar to how we cannot love another until we know how to love ourselves. Intrapersonal love nourishes interpersonal love, and the act of forgiveness aids in acceptance and the ability to remain present. Forgiveness provides us with a way to achieve perfection through an acceptance of the imperfections in our flawed world.
Mostly, though, I think forgiveness is the ultimate confession that we are, in fact, imperfect–that we make mistakes, and by forgiving others, we provide ourselves with, yet, another opportunity to recognize the importance of loving ourselves and appreciating the current versions of ourselves as the culmination of all previous events–those in which we conquer our shame, and those in which we grow our pride.