Catherine Anaya

The art of forgiveness

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As the year comes to a close and the spirit of giving is in full bloom, many of us choose to reflect on what we’ve accomplished the last 12 months with thoughts of what self-promises we’ll strive for in the year ahead.

I’m not typically one for New Year’s resolutions, but I am one to reflect on the ups and downs of the year and what lessons I’ve learned from them.

I was challenged personally this past year to step outside my comfort zone, to expose my insecurities and myself, and to take a risk by opening myself up to new people and new adventures.

Along the way, I learned the art of forgiveness. It’s something few would ever consider easy, but experience has shown me it’s almost always worthwhile. How else can you move forward without forgiving the past?

Perhaps you’ve heard this saying: “God doesn’t give you the people you want. He gives you the people you need; to help you, to hurt you, to leave you, to love you and to make you the person you were meant to be.”

We can’t avoid it and when it happens we want to scream and cry, “Why me?”

A better question might be, “Why not me?” None of us are immune to pain and sorrow. But how we deal with it can create some personally defining moments.

I know, because this past year someone close to me hurt me with words and actions that I had long considered unforgivable.

It violated certain principles I set forth for myself and I wasn’t about to waiver from my personal set of agreements. Or so I thought.

I had these preconceived notions of how I would handle myself in such a situation and I stuck to my guns and a Teflon façade – until one day when I took a good hard look in the mirror. I saw the reflection of someone far from perfect, someone who’s made her share of mistakes and somehow found a way to own up to them and vow to never make them again. I’d learned to forgive myself, so how could I not forgive someone else?

Learning to forgive wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight. The ghosts of the past still haunt me at times, and every now and again I have to work hard to suppress the insecurities that arise from them.  But if we expect to be given second chances, we certainly have to be willing to give them, right?

Choosing to forgive has given me an added sense of compassion, a newer sense of optimism and a better understanding of why one mistake doesn’t have to define a person.

And we all have our defining moments – in my case, a second time around that’s far better than the first.

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