Let me preface this by saying that this is not a religious post. That’s not really my blogging schtick. It is, however, a bit of a ramble about the concepts of redemption and forgiveness.
Forgiveness- willingness to cease to feel resentment against
Redemption- an act of atonement for a fault or mistake
I get caught up in the words here a bit, but generally speaking, the wrongdoer can try and make redemption and the party that was wronged can offer forgiveness. I think the thing that interests me about these words is that they are parallel concepts, but also capable of being mutually exclusive. A person can be forgiven without having redeemed his/her self and a person can struggle for redemption and ultimately never receive forgiveness. That just seems unbalanced to me. However, such is the state of abstract human emotion and I suppose the most that we can do is to do our best to live in such a way that we have few occasions to seek forgiveness. Naturally, this is difficult for some of us. It certainly has been for me at various points. And that’s how I ended up writing this today.
Once upon a time I was very young and very dumb. I drank a lot and did a lot of silly things as some young and dumb people are apt to do.
I made a lot of mistakes. I let people go that I should have held onto and held onto the ones that were ultimately poisonous.
I’m sure I had my reasons. I’m equally sure that whatever those reasons were, they really really sucked.
I’ve spent a whole bunch of years beating myself up for my youthful transgressions. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to be a better person than the one I used to be, because I really didn’t like the old me very much. And here’s what I learned today. I want to feel like somehow I’ve redeemed myself to anyone I’ve let down at various points in my existence. I’d like to be able to offer a giant cosmic apology for being a hot mess of a 20yr old kid. But the person that’s really been holding out on that whole forgiveness thing during this process? Yeah, that would be me.
It took being brave enough to look up an old friend to realize that no one has been punishing me but myself.
And maybe the reality is that that old friend has forgiven my youthful idiocy, maybe not. But that friend started a conversation with me today about where life had brought us. Now here’s the thing. As good as it felt to know someone I had let down would happily catch up with me, I also realized it didn’t entirely remove the burden I’ve been hauling around. And that’s because he didn’t give me the burden to bear in the first place.
As it turns out, I’m the person that is making me so miserable. I’m the one who can’t show compassion to someone who has truly been working to be better.
And I suppose that means that I’m the only one who can change things. Now there’s a daunting prospect.
But if that old adage about knowledge being power is true, then at least it’s a start.
And I’m lucky in lots of ways. I may not have grown up enough to know how to cook or put together IKEA bookshelves, but I’ve at least grown up enough to stop doing really stupid things for all the wrong reasons. And if that wasn’t enough, somehow I managed to befriend some of the best people I know, to find a Brotherhood full of ridiculously awesome individuals, and to grow closer to my family than I ever was before.
So I guess maybe I’m doing something right after all.
Yes indeed, that’s definitely a start.