There are a few people in the world who make me want to hide myself under the Harry Potter invisibility cloak. They are the peace disturbers, the annoyers, the ones who make me crazy with just a word, a look, a comment, a request—that’s all it takes to send me off into a world of anger, frustration, criticism, or judgment. Try as I might, it seems impossible to avoid some sort of conflict or contact with them. I hear a voice, I turn and do a quick-step in the opposite direction. Then another pops up and blocks my exit route. There’s no escape. While there are only a couple of folks who have that effect on me, it seems more like an army. They’re everywhere. It’s maddening.
I try. I mean, I really, really try hard to not allow myself to be negatively impacted by the words and deeds of others, no matter how underhanded, manipulative, or controlling I perceive them to be. Once in a blue moon, I succeed for a minute, but a minute is about all I can manage to muster up before the next offense rises up and challenges me to get over myself and behave like an adult.
Maybe it’s karma. Maybe it’s lifetimes of unhealed junk that I’ve carried around in my backpack for as long as the world has been spinning. Maybe these blessed souls are there for the sole purpose of teaching me some sort of a gigantic life lesson. Maybe I’m not getting out of here alive before first realizing that avoidance is not the best or healthiest way to deal with a troubling situation. The most troubling of all is the wee perception that what I perceive as “wrong with them” may be something within myself that needs to be healed, else I would not be able to recognize it outside of myself. Yikes.
Sometimes it helps to focus on the benefit of letting go. Sometimes it’s a matter of asking myself my least favorite question, “What’s in it for me?” What’s in it for me to forgive a husband who had a brief fling with a friend? My knee jerk reaction was to distance myself from the co-respondent, along with the entire group of friends of which we were all a part. My unwillingness to associate with the betrayer fueled my departure from a group of friends that I enjoyed and robbed me of a large piece of my social life. Oh, the things I do to myself!
The forgive-and-forget plan fell short of its goal, and neither avoidance nor denial provided solution or solace. I was the one left suffering the effect of my own anger with the loss of peace, trust, and friendship. The infraction of one person (well, maybe two if you count my philandering husband) who had crossed a line had rocked my world.
Two years after the discovery, as I was riding down Connecticut Avenue on my way to work, I had an epiphany. I suddenly saw that I was the one denying myself the joy of love and friendship by virtue of my blame, criticism, and judgment of one person. I was the one stuck on my righteous attitude of anger and blame. I was the only one suffering while the others went merrily on their way without me, utterly clueless about my pain. I was the one refusing to forgive because clearly, I was right and they were wrong. Right? Wrong!
With that epiphany came another—the instant realization that since I was the only one suffering by my own hand (or head is more like it) in this scenario, I was the only one who could change the situation that I had created for myself. I was my own peace thief.
Simultaneously, another amazing thing happened. An actual desire to let it go and forgive and forget washed over me and a spontaneous prayer arose within me. Oh God I truly do want to forgive this situation, but I don’t know how. Please help! And I sat back, let go, and relaxed.
Day by day, little by little, inch by inch, I began to feel better until one day soon after, I awoke and discovered that it was gone—all of the blame, criticism, anger, judgment—gone. In the midst of the quiet miracle that had occurred within me, it dawned on me that forgiveness requires true willingness. Only the sincere desire and heartfelt commitment to forgive will open the floodgates to the miracle of forgiveness. It doesn’t work if there’s even the tiniest bit of anger or resentment. Sometimes one has to be willing to be willing to be willing to let go and forgive.
As I ponder my attitude toward my current peace disturbers, I must sit myself down and ask a soul-searching question. Am I truly willing? Do I really, really mean it when I ask for forgiveness such that I can stand to be in the same room with one of my peace thieves and not wish to commit dishonorable hara-kiri? Do I have it within myself to pull it off? Do I? Can I? Will I?
Yes, I do, yes I can, and yes I will.
To my unwitting teachers of peace, I pray that with each thought of you, my heart opens spontaneously so that I may clearly see that purity and radiating love are a force in your life. I pray that I look beyond any and all behavior that causes me to think less of you, or that distorts my image of you as anything other than the Truth of your being, which is Love.
With my backpack fully loaded with willingness, desire, and a prayer for forgiveness, all I need do now is sit back, relax, and be amazed and grateful for the miracle that restores me to peace and floods my life and the lives of others with love and grace.
So what’s in it for me? Only peace of mind. Oh–and maybe a bit of happiness too. That’s all.