The virtue of forgiveness was the topic of a heated debate that a friend had with his was-to-be mother-in-law. She argued that forgiving people and forgiving ourselves is the path to happiness and (in my words) reunion with God. While acknowledging that forgiveness is a better ‘place’ than remaining in judgment of another, that we should strive for nonjudgment as the ultimate virtue.
In my life, the only times that I have had to forgive others is when I had judged them in the first place. To judge another requires us to forget that we and they are sprung from the same stock, are partakers of the same hope and sharers of the same nature… to judge another we judge that part of ourselves that lies within them that is currently being manifested by the very thing that you condemn. We see the flaws in others most clearly when we hold them close to our heart ourselves.
Ironically, the ‘debate’ existed because she denied that we could suspend judgment! I was being told that it was impossible to not judge someone who wrongs us, and therefore forgiveness is the highest perfection to which we might aspire. To me (and this could be my narcissism), she was telling me that something that she chose to believe impossible for her was also impossible for me… instead of acknowledging and encouraging the pursuit of a higher purpose.
I find this habit worst amongst individuals who bury their ‘dark’ side rather than coming to a sense of peace and resolution through accepting and releasing that darkness, realising that the only antidote to darkness is light. Self-righteous Christians are amongst the worst.
Forgiving another requires us to judge… so it were better that we not judge in the first place.
When I met that friend’s friend earlier this week, the girl looking for love in all the wrong places, I could not judge her. While I could see where she was going and the pain that she was going through, I could only empathise with her plight, appreciating the pain that she goes through. It would be easy to make the mistake of me telling her that she is doing the ‘wrong’ thing by continuing to make her mistakes, and that she should learn from my mistakes… and there was a time when I would have tried to impose my experience on her! Yet I now know that our mistakes are our mistakes: they can’t be had by another.
I try to spend a little time each day in silence and a little time in nonjudgment… noticing and accepting that no matter how the world might appear, knowing that it is ‘perfect’ just the way it is, and being grateful that it is unfolding as it should. I’ll strive to spend days in nonjudgment.