Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Every Night I Forgive People

I was reading Elan's blog today and this line jumped out at me.

"Every night I forgive people..."

It was a fragment of a sentence, and I'm taking it completely out of its original context, but it might as well have been a sermon. Elan wrote it like it was part of a perfectly normal nighttime routine--like, "I brush my teeth and wash my face and forgive people and..."

I was talking with a friend earlier this year about closure, about how closure is something you get less and less of the older you are. Like, when you were in junior high and your boyfriend dumped you on MSN, you could just go back on MSN the next night and say exactly what you wanted to say. Same with friendships. But maybe that was just part of growing up in a small town--I only had a few best friends, and those best friends were stuck with me, and I was stuck with them and I liked it like that. It trained my brain to realize that every relationship is salvageable if you want it to be. To this day, if I think someone has a beef with me, I'll outright ask them about it and we'll fix it up and be friends again. I hate the feeling of not knowing what the other person's thinking. I fill in all the blanks. You want to torture me? Act mad and then say you don't want to talk about it. It's my Kryptonite.

But as an adult, living in a city, in the social media age, I find I actually have to just let it go sometimes. If the other person doesn't want to fix it, it's done. The end. Sometimes this means skipping over a problem and pretending like nothing happened, and sometimes it means the end of the friendship altogether.

Problem: My brain doesn't know what to do with this. It short-circuits.

Furthermore, it just so happens that 2016 was The Whole Entire Year of NonClosure and I discovered all of the above things about myself. I discovered that I am the exact opposite of a wild animal: you back me into a corner, I will be thrilled. I will sit down and talk to you and probably cry for the joy of finally sorting us out. But you run away? That's when I get all frantic.

Yup. Oh great I'm one of those people. 

I know there are, like, a million parts to this. It's hard to feel unheard or misunderstood. It sucks to know you're the villain in someone's mind, so there's pride somewhere in there. There's plain old hurt, because who loves losing a friendship? On and on. I've lost a lot of sleep over this this year. And yet, forgiveness has never once crossed my mind.

Is that terrible to say?

I don't know, forgiveness always seemed like a thing that goes with closure. Like the final step. Like you need to get all the blood cleaned up and a bandaid on before you say to someone, "Okay, that's dealt with, and I forgive you." It's not like I've been sitting around waiting for an apology, or stewing over it and hating people--I've just been a little stunned and very sad and haven't known how exactly to go about taking care of this kind of cut. I guess I actually forgot about forgiveness.

Which is why I loved Elan's words so much. Every night I forgive people. Every night, consciously sitting down and making a choice not to hang onto this hurt or bitterness or whatever, even if the problem itself will still exist in the morning, or even if you don't get closure, or even if you don't get a friendship back, or even if you don't get to defend yourself.

It may be a different kind of bedtime routine, but in a way, it's exactly like washing your face or brushing your teeth--because isn't the point of all that to keep junk from building up?