To flourish, we need a way to bring good things in and get unproductive things out of our systems. One of the tougher de-tox ideas is to forgiveness.
I don’t like that word! I’ve lived, studied and worked with leaders in the forgiveness and reconciliation movement. The word “forgive” never resonated. For some reason – illogical and incorrect though it is – I can’t shake the idea that forgiveness means saying “What they did was all right.” My heart has no pride and is not willing to deal with my dictionary.
But one day I thought, “Even if X wanted to make restitution I would not accept X’s money. It really wouldn’t make a difference at this point.”
And then I thought, “I don’t want to be the person I was when that harm was done. That feels like a big step back.”
I felt something shifting inside of me and decided to run with it.
I thought, “What if I lose nothing in this process but the knot in my stomach? After all, I’m better at reading whether or not a person has my best interest at heart.”
And then the surprising idea popped out: “What if I burned the receipt?” (I didn’t have to tell the person.) “What if I refuse to keep anything related to that person in my psyche and home?”
Home run. That felt great.
And now when I see that person, I have trained my mind (which needs reminders) to say, ‘I don’t keep receipts from you! Your money is no good here because it won’t get me where I need to go.”
Me being me, I wrote a sonnet about it which I share here:
And let me keep the shortest of accounts
With those whose betrayals hurt me the most.
Return to my butcher’s bill? The amount
Was paid! I keep love and kindness close,
Trusting my heart that if a fateful day
Requires painful wisdom dearly bought
I’ll say with a free and easy heart, “May
I do the wise thing. May I not be caught
Up in bitter beliefs that warp my soul.”
I’ve glorious freedom knowing I’m done
With chasing debtors down. I’m in control.
Even if they’d paid, I’d not be whole. Run
To new life. That path is my own best friend.
When I refuse payment my suffering ends.
-Allegra Jordan, 2019.
May your days be merry and lighter this season!
PS: If you are interested in these (free) sonnets, check them out at reconciliationpoetry.com or workpoems.com. If you’d like to know about the work I do to help build flourishing communities with healthy leaders, go to allegrajordan.com for an overview.