How do you even consider the topic of “forgiveness” when people are being shot in malls, festivals, and on the street? It is a hard concept to grasp even in the best of times. 

First, let me say that I am NOT suggesting that we should be in a head space to forgive the shooters who are destroying lives and families. My heart breaks for the lives that were taken so carelessly and for the family and friends who are dealing with the aftermath. There is nothing that I can say to weaken your pain. There is nothing I can do to mend your heart. You are hurting and most likely angry and I understand it. All I can say is that I am with you. I am witnessing your pain and sorrow and I feel it, certainly not in the way you do. I will not go through my day as if nothing happened. I am with you in spirit, and I truly wish I could ease your suffering. I will live in some silence today to honor your friends and family. I will be grateful for those dear to me and I will not take those relationships for granted. You are not alone.

When these events happen in our own cities and neighborhoods, we struggle to find some explanation. We lose faith, and hope, and begin to question humanity. We are angered because we feel helpless to do anything about it. How do we protect our family and ourselves? It is an enormously complicated social ill and there are no easy answers. But we SHOULD be talking about it. We SHOULD be having healthy debates on solutions, and it is ok to get worked up and emotional. We are human! 

Consider the topic of “forgiveness” when engaging in these debates with folks who have different views on these exceedingly difficult topics. You have a very slim chance of changing their mind, let’s be honest. They feel as strong about their beliefs as you do about yours, even though you may think they are wrong. The result will be a compromise between your beliefs or an “agree to disagree” close to the conversation. But, be prepared for those that want nothing more than to send you down a path of anger and resentment. They live for that kind of encounter. Don’t follow them down the rabbit hole. Instead, you forgive. 

Forgiveness is a way of life just like kindness, gratitude, exercise, eating well, and meditation. It is a life skill, and you can learn it. Once you do, it must be practiced. If we use it regularly, we can thrive no matter what life throws our way. It is a mindset that benefits you, not anyone else. It results in less stress, lower blood pressure, a more positive outlook on life and a more peaceful existence. 

How do you practice it? You forgive regularly. You forgive the guy who cuts you off on the road. You forgive your family member who made a comment that seemed like a dig. You forgive your friend for not being able to make an event. You forgive the family member who didn’t make it a priority to come to the family reunion. You forgive the server who gave you crappy service at the restaurant. You forgive the customer who called and yelled at you on the phone. You change your mindset each time. You say to yourself:

  • “They are probably having a bad day and it has nothing to do with me.”
  • “They have a different perspective on that situation, and I won’t change their mind.”
  • “I know who I am, and I don’t need their approval.”

Yes, even the guy that calls you an a$$hole on social media and tells you to get a lobotomy. You forgive him too. You say to yourself, “I wish him well as it has to be hard to live with all that anger.”  I can tell you from experience, it is hard!

If you think I am full of crap, feel free to comment. Let’s talk about it!

With Respect,

Michelle Kavanaugh