I have a heavy heart right now. The few times I actually watch the news it all seems bad and worse. Yesterday I relieved my mind of some very deep thoughts on guilt. I also tried to process crime and punishment. It seems that the two don't always go hand-in-hand, but perhaps that's just the way the world works. We have to be concerned with ourselves first. As consistently as sunrise and sunset, people - myself included - will continue to make mistakes, bad choices, and errors. So aside from consequences, what is the one thing mankind needs in order to move forward? Forgiveness.
Remember my mentioning Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice yesterday? As a sinful human, I love the following passage more than anything else:
The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. (IV, 1, 180-187)
What Portia is saying in TMOV is that you cannot force an angry person to be merciful. Furthermore, when leniency is coerced, it really isn't compassionate at all. However, when forgiveness is offered, it benefits both the guilty and the prosecuting parties for their own reasons. Consider this:
Think about times when you are filled with anger, wrath, revenge. Physically you may present a scowled face. You may have stressors inside causing you to feel ill. Emotionally you can concentrate on nothing else. In devoting all of this emotional energy on the downfall of another person, you are really sacrificing energy you could be spending enjoying other aspects of your life.
Is this falling on deaf ears? Are you comfortable forgiving and moving on? Okay consider this:
A more difficult task is learning to forgive oneself. Once you commit an offense, you should make up for the error in a choice of ways: offer an apology, make some restitution, or do penance. And then move on. But can you? Do you ever get a gnawing pit in your gut when you encounter a former vice? Do you ever avoid awkward conversations because you are never quite sure if you are forgiven? If you feel affected by a guilty conscience, perhaps it's because you have not forgiven yourself. You are perpetually convicting yourself of a past wrong doing. Is this justified? Or are you committing cruel and unusual punishment against yourself.
Have you ever sat around with a group of friends and played the If-I-Could-Live-One-Life-Era-Again-What-Would-I-Change game? Boy am I good at that! I have so many things in the past I would change in a heartbeat. There are plenty of situations I would handle differently, some as superficial as my questionable fashion sense in the early 90s and others that I hold much closer to my heart. I mentioned this to a confidant recently, and she quickly set me straight. She reminded me what I should already know: If you could go back through life, undoing all of your past mistakes, how and when would you ever learn the accompanying lessons?
Regrets? I have a few. Guilty Conscience? I still recognize that feeling from time to time. Nevertheless, I believe that if you are living with regret and/or if you frequently feel like the world is condemning you, perhaps it is you who cannot forgive yourself.
Do you have tips on how to let yourself off the hook? Do you have a favorite scripture, self-help book, movie, or other media which has really inspired you? If you are brazen enough to confess, what is your biggest regret and how do you choose to overcome that regret? Or do you? I would love to know I'm not alone, so I look forward to your comments.
Update 9/22/2015: If you are new to my blog due to the Blogelina Commentathon, welcome! I hope you stay a while. I'm an emotional person and sometimes you will see light, fluffy tutorials. Other times I'll share a great recipe or two. Then there are times, like this super popular post, when I blend real life and Social Media life by writing about my heavy heart. I have always believed writing/journaling/blogging is a great way to process my thoughts. I hope you stick around beyond this event; we could be great friends!