This evening, I attended a preview course on Healing and Reconciliation. One thing that the instructor brought up was that when we are hurting, it is very difficult to hear the grievances of others. Knowing that I’ve hurt others and pray that they can forgive me and move past the pain is important. By keeping this in mind, I’m more likely to forgive others. Allah tells us in the Qur’an:
And obey Allah and the Messenger that you may obtain mercy. And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteousWho spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good (Surah Imran: 132-134
Last week’s Khutbah by Marc Manley was on humility. He reminded us about letting things go even when they chafe us. There are things that stand in the way of humility, from well intentioned peopled like myself. Sometimes I interact with people and feel deep anger over real and perceived slights and insults. It is fight or flight. The anxiety is real, the visceral reaction is so real and tangible for me. I’m left exhausted after the verbal battles. My first response is to guard myself. But these shields are something that keep me from asking for forgiveness when I wrong Allah and when I wrong His creation. Making amends with people is one of the most humbling things.
Making amends can be frightening. Unprepared, it can turn into a downward cycle. Recently, I unknowingly did something deeply offensive. When it was brought to my attention, I apologized. But my apology wasn’t accepted. Instead, it brought an onslaught of anger, grievances, and judgments about my essential self. At the time, I was not in a place where I could accept the grievances. My life was in upheaval, I had just been dealt with another emotional blow the day before, and I was blindsided. Sometimes I still think about that moment with a broken heart, with unresolved feelings. But then again, I hadn’t done much to find the space or time to resolve it. Instead, the judgment and derision I have faced still echo in my head. I let them shape how I see myself. And I wallow in this pit listening to those voices who tell me I am not worthy, I am not lovable, I need to go, I don’t belong, I’m not good enough. The over achiever in me tries to battle those voices by doing things to prove my worthiness, my cleverness, my lovability, my noble contribution to the world. But those efforts often fall short. It is time for real self work
I’ve done a number of crummy things and things I’m not proud of. I can’t even chalk them up to my youth as I did them when I was a supposedly mature woman. Still, I am learning to be more kind and forgive myself. Part of forgiving myself is letting those voices die out, as they are untruths about me. And as long as I let them define me, I will be sad and angry. Forgiveness for me is self care. I have been very unkind to myself as I have internalized much of the judgment and derision I have experienced in my life. I know it will be a process, but carrying on this way is doing me much more harm emotionally and spiritually. I know I have a lot of people to make amends to. I am working on becoming prepared to listen to others with empathy, from a place where I am whole.