When I was growing up my dad told me many things that just weren’t true, but as a child I believed them. For example, he told me that he had done hand-to-hand combat in World War II and had even reluctantly killed a few men. I thought he must’ve been so brave to have endured such a harrowing experience. (I found out after his death that he’d never actually left his ship.) Most of his lies were to put himself in a better light, but some were darker and were born of denial and shame.
As I grew into adulthood, most of my father’s untruths lay revealed. My initial anger at having been deceived over the years turned into forgiveness and understanding… and eventually even evolved into compassion.
However, when one more untruth just came to light yesterday, I began to think about my dad’s proclivity to be inventive with the truth. When I was about 10 years old, my father told me a story that he said that he’d made up. It was about an old gardener and a traveler. I loved the story, so yesterday I decided to post it on my Facebook site. Immediately, many folks posted that it was one of their favorite stories that their spiritual teacher or their guru had told them.
“What! My dad didn’t make up that story? Oh no! Darn. Darn. Darn. He lied again!”
Although my father has been dead for many years, it stung to discover yet one more dishonest act. All these years I had harbored pride about this particular story… and when I found out that he hadn’t originated it, I realized that his other stories probably weren’t original either.
Okay, now I have a choice. I can either open old wounds and harvest fresh resentment, or I can forgive him. It’s not always easy, but when it comes, forgiveness is a healing salve. I know that to harbor bitterness is like “swallowing poison and hoping the other person dies.” And I know that with forgiveness comes new life and ease. I realize that I can indeed choose forgiveness. It is a choice.
When I began to forgive my dad, a gentle amusement about the vastly creative ways he used to embellish his world filled me. The more bemused I became the more warmth, peace and relaxation flowed over me. Truly forgiveness is a choice, and in my choice to see my father as someone with a highly creative imagination (rather than a liar) I found a peace fill me. It was a direct experience of the healing power of forgiveness
So if you saw the story I posted on Facebook, my father didn’t write it … but it’s a good story never-the-less.
Here are a few Forgiveness Tips:
- You don’t have to forgive the act (some acts are unforgivable) but you can forgive the individual who committed the act.
- Your forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you … so you don’t carry the emotional burden of resentment and bitterness on your shoulders.
- If you just can’t forgive the perpetrator, then forgive yourself for not forgiving. It’s a powerful starting point.