I once received a chocolate bar from a colleague who believed she had offended me beyond repair (in reality, I wasn’t upset in the least). This lemon-flavored dark chocolate was called “Forgiveness,” and I cut up the packaging and taped the label to my monitor to remind me every day that “Forgiveness helps metabolism.” Fortunately, I’m not often in a position to need to dole out or receive forgiveness. But, occasionally, I err.
The details aren’t important, but I share with you here that last fall I fractured a friendship that was very important to me. At the time, the friendship had weakened, and rather than talk through my grievances, I cruelly sliced through its severed neck like a skilled executioner. I immediately regretted my actions, but was both too proud and too ashamed to patch things up. Since that fateful moment, I mourned my friendship on an almost daily basis. I missed her so terribly, but I didn’t know how to crawl back, or if she would even want me to. So, I stuffed my sorrow in a deep black hole and let it fester. This putrefaction weighed on me. I thought about calling, sending a letter, carrier pigeon, anything, but I didn’t. I tried to forget, but I couldn’t.
And so the week before my birthday, when I saw an email from her in my mailbox, I could have wept. I hungrily opened it and found a timid birthday wish, and I responded as fast as my fingers could fly across my keyboard. Toe by toe, we tested the waters, finally agreeing to meet for brunch (formerly one of our most favorite activities together).
I expected to be nervous yesterday, though I didn’t feel those tell-tale butterflies that accompany nerves. I felt elated and anxious, as though my heart was telling me not to f*&@ this up. We sipped wine, and I peppered her with questions. I was listening, but I had to dampen down the voice in my head that wanted to scream – a la Owen Meany – “I’M SORRY!!!” I kept waiting for the moment to extend my shaking olive branch. Plates were cleared. Coffee cups drained. The lunch shift transitioned to the dinner shift. Finally, I could procrastinate no longer. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry, too,” she replied. And we wept, openly and quietly in our sunny booth.
We parted ways that afternoon, our souls a little bruised but patched up neatly. I drove home feeling lighter, happier, than I have in a long time.
I weighed myself this morning. Apparently the figurative burden of the world on my shoulders literally weighs three pounds. Forgiveness does indeed help metabolism.
I opened my email this morning to find one of my favorite e-newsletters. I often find that the daily quotes selected for the missive are oddly germane to my present situation, and today was no exception:
“Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.” – George MacDonald
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Gandhi
“Resentment is like a glass of poison that a man drinks; then he sits down and waits for his enemy to die.” – Anon