I’m Struggling with Forgiveness…How About You?

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heal that has crushed it.”

-Mark Twain

I recognized recently that I am struggling with (among other things) forgiveness. I know this because, I can think of certain people and be filled with a bubbling Schadenfreude. That’s an awful German word that basically means “to take pleasure in someone else’s failure.” Ugh. There it is. Yes. I admit it. My name is Elisa, I am the co-owner of a company created to spread love and light and yet currently, I am an unforgiveaholic.

You may not want to hear this but when you feel this way (I’m including you so I don’t feel so alone) ;yucky on the inside with a dash of rage and the constant need to point out the ugliness you perceive in someone else, it’s a neon sign that is screaming “You got some serious forgiveness issues, honey.”


Let’s be honest. There are awful things that happen in the world. There are things that I can’t imagine needing to forgive other humans for. AND at the same time there are acts of forgiveness so profound  (like how the relatives of the victims of the Charleston church shooting offered forgiveness to the gunman) that I am in absolute awe of the well spring of strength and fortitude of forgiveness that some super humans seem to have. And I pray I will never need that kind of big league courage.

What I’m dealing with is (embarrassingly enough given the state of our world) just a garden variety inability to be forgiving. And, I do think it’s important to talk about forgiveness on a small scale so if we have to, we can try to deal with it on a larger one when and if the time comes.

When I spoke to a wise elder about my feelings and they suggested that I (silently, thank goodness) offer these individuals love and light – a shiver went through my body and I cringed.

My reptilian brain said, “but then I would have to let go of all the anger, the resentment, the betrayal that I feel. If I did that, it would feel like they win and I lose.” Wow. Another awful realization about myself – I want to come out on top here and that matters, a lot. I want to win.

Win what?!

More ugh.


Forgiveness, like grace, seems to come when we allow ourselves to surrender to the truth of ourselves. No matter how ugly. No matter how grim. At our core we are the same. Some of us just leak more than others. And perhaps for good reason.

What if I allowed myself to feel some empathy, maybe to consider these various people human beings, just like me? Someone who has experienced love and loss. Someone perhaps, whose heart has been broken so badly, whose boundaries have been crossed so deeply, whose pain is so strong that they can’t hide it on the inside, like a lot of us can. What if I could see them as a child whose world had not held them and loved them, but had neglected or rejected or tried to annihilate them?

Then, who would I be if I couldn’t forgive? What would that say about me?

Maybe forgiving is deep understanding and cultivated compassion rolled together. Forgiveness is not about forgiving the action and letting it go-it’s about understanding who the person was at the time of the action combined with the practice of nurturing compassion in our souls so that when we are called upon to forgive, we have a wealth of it to draw from.

And then of course the fragrance the violet sheds is not only that we are free from the hold that someone had on us, but that we offer them empathy, compassion and love. What a world it would be. What a shift we could create in the very fabric of our society and beyond.

We need to do the deep work of forgiveness before the opportunity for forgiveness even arises. I suggest (for myself as well as you) that we find ways to fill our compassion banks. That we seek opportunities to understand the lives of the people around us on a deeper level. And that we be more open to those who are so called “different than us.” They are not different. We all have hearts. We all have the capacity to be better people and we need to be better people, right now.

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