Forgiveness is probably one of the hardest things for people to do. After typing the holiday into Google and skimming over other people’s stories of forgiveness, I felt mixed emotions. How can you forgive someone that has done wrong to you? Here’s the thing, not forgiving someone turns into built up anger and a stressful life for the person on either end of the conflict. I learned this through a typical “mean girls” event that happened to me in high school. When I began dating a guy in senior year of high school, I never thought it would lead to the bumpy road I was headed on. A year before this I had been close with a girlfriend I met in 10th grade. Through different interests and meeting new people we slowly drifted, but were still friendly with one another. I knew when I started dating my boyfriend that he and my friend had a fling in 9th grade that led into the beginning of high school. This was before I knew either one of them, and I thought enough time had passed that it was no big deal. My senior year of high school four girls I had been friendly with made me their enemy for dating this guy. But I had done nothing wrong, right? I started to have built up anger towards them for lashing out at me for something so silly. You could literally feel the heat between us as we passed each other in the hallway. So, I began to take different routes to my classes and to lunch in order to avoid them. Meanwhile they would purposely strut down the hallway next to me as if to show me their power and their friendship that I was no longer apart of. When you are 18 this is very stressful, especially on top of college applications. Finally in freshman year of college, they forgave me. Although I was damaged on the other end for being punished for something I thought to be ridiculous, I told them I was thrilled they cleared the air. There was so much stress and tension relieved from me that day. After that I realized, I never wanted to inflict that type of worry on someone. Lesson learned: Always forgive no matter how hard it is. Now this was just a little story of forgiveness and high school drama, but of course there are way more serious events that happen in life that make it difficult to forgive.
On this special day think about the inspiring stories we have heard from others. A friend of mine most recently told me about a teenager who bullied another student so badly that the student killed himself. Amazingly, the parents of the victim who died forgave the bully. They turned it into an educational experience and now travel the country speaking out about bullying together with the boy who drove their son to his death.
Whether you are a high school student who is angry at a classmate for betrayal or you are a grown adult with a family or work dilemma that is occurring, we all need to begin forgiving these people in our life. I know it is not simple. A large amount of courage is needed to forgive someone. How about we take this challenge? The challenge of swallowing our pride, building courage, and forgiving so that we all live healthier lives with less stress and anxiety. It takes more energy out of your chaotic life to have bottled up anger and hatred towards someone than it does to forgive.
Kelsey McMeans, AWP Volunteer