I know these people all too well.
I’ve sat on the phone with them…sometimes for hours.
I would listen and empathize…sometimes.
Sometimes, I’d put the phone down and come back. They never knew I had stepped away.
I finally learned to say, “Ooh, girl…let me call you right back.”
Right back would often be the following week.
These tortured souls were reliving some infraction…some harm…some trauma done to them.
They recounted every detail with the accuracy of a trained marksman.
And without fail, at the end of the tirade, they ended with the same refrain…”But I’m over it.”
You can’t be over it and the event comes up in every conversation.
You can’t be over it and you can recall the event with the same passion as the day it happened.
You can’t be over it if the very thought of that person or event still makes you tighten your jaw and curse under your breath.
Naw sis, you ain’t over it.
You’re still holding that person hostage to your rage and disgust. Your fury is still evident.
I knew that forgiveness had not even entered their purview.
And that’s when I realized I was slowly becoming that person.
I was recalling the infraction with some consistency and with the same bitter taste in my mouth.
I was still running warm from the harm done and hadn’t in the least bit let it go.
I’d been listening to Tabitha Brown’s book, Feeding the Soul (Because It’s My Business): Finding Our Way to Joy, Love, and Freedom. Chapter nine, “Now Is the Time to Forgive” was stepping all on my toes. They say if you can’t say amen, say ouch. I was yelling ouch!
I knew that if I did not forgive…I was going to turn into the people I had sat on the phone with.
I didn’t want that for myself.
I was going to have to let go.
I was going to have to forgive.
Even if I felt they didn’t deserve it.
This forgiveness was selfish.
It was for me.
If I was going to move forward, if I wanted true peace and contentment I was going to have to let them and the infraction go.
So, I took lots of deep breaths.
I envisioned myself holding a balloon which they represented.
And then I saw myself letting the balloon go and watching it disappear into the sky.
I took another deep breath and started the process of walking out that forgiveness.
Whenever I would think of the infraction and person I would simply pray, “May they find peace and healing” and continue with my day.
Then I began to genuinely feel empathy for them because there had to be a whole lot wrong to warrant the behavior I witnessed.
I had to forgive them so I wouldn’t get stuck in a place I knew I didn’t want to be and quite frankly a place I did not belong.
So, I let them go.
Now, they certainly don’t have access or a seat at my table (that would be so unwise) but they no longer live rent-free in my head, and loathing no longer resides in my heart.
And that’s the most important part.
The condition and well-being of MY heart.