This is the season when hope builds for peace in our world and hearts open to that possibility.The most genuine affect that we can have in the world always begins with ourselves. Peace of mind, peace of heart. After all, we only truly have control over ourselves—our thoughts, actions, attitudes, beliefs and responses.
Sometimes the things that drag us down and take us out of the flow are invisible to us, not right in our faces. There are momentary stresses in our lives, but it’s the holding on to hurts, grievances or resentments that creates an armor around our hearts, making peace elusive. More often than not, it’s a hurt that we haven’t healed or let go of. That kind of pain can be a burden to carry, and our hearts become heavy, sometimes without our awareness of it. One can build walls to feel safe, being careful not to be vulnerable to that kind of pain again, but that kind of safety in isolation usually doesn’t bring peace. The human heart longs to express love in its many forms.
If the thought of someone who represents that pain or anger comes up, there is a reason the thought is there. Many times that thought is trying to tell us something—bringing it to our attention. I’ve realized that if I believe someone owes me an apology, then that’s a sure sign I haven’t yet forgiven him or her. It’s a burden to wait for an apology that may never come, but I can release that burden by forgiving in my own heart. The person it concerns never need know that I have forgiven and let go of whatever it may be. One of the best ways I’ve found to begin the process of forgiveness is to remind myself that we are all doing the best we can at the time, and it’s not up to me to judge what someone else’s best is. The guarantee that comes along with being human is that we will all make mistakes at one time or another.
Another part of forgiveness that can be easy to overlook is forgiving oneself for making a mistake. It’s hard to be at peace while being hard on oneself or mentally punishing oneself for messing up. To stumble and fall is human. To forgive, get up, dust oneself off and keep going is, well, divine.
This is the season that reminds us of peace and forgiveness–a season for healing, goodwill and love to carry us into a new year that could become the most meaningful, joyful year of our lives so far.
© Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, coach and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World. For more information: http://www.maryclaireoneal.com