4 Ways to Practice Forgiveness

Living in a foreign country puts me in situations that I have never experienced before. These are not bad situations, or scary, just different. Many people stay stuck just where they are because of this. Doing something different doesn’t always feel good but that in no way means it’s a bad thing.

As adults, we go to the same restaurants, eat the same food, use the same words, drive the same roads and then talk about a life we are not willing to grab. But what if you were? What could you do?

For instance, maybe you want to live abroad? You could begin reading about others that have already moved away. Or study the countries you are interested. Make a pros and cons list. Maybe join an international expat organization, many of them are free. Plan the date of your garage sale to begin “right sizing”. Language classes maybe?

With 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, there is no time like the present deciding what retirement means to you. We have choices and lots of them. There is absolutely no reason not live an extraordinary life at any age. So just what does all this have to do with forgiveness. EVERYTHING! This “forgiveness” stuff smacked me in the side of the head while driving through Spain.

Driving to church in the south of Spain, my husband and I began to quarrel. I was driving, our big ol’ 1998 black Mercedes, that we shipped over when we began our overseas journey in 2015. I had never driven in Spain although I have visited on several different occasions. Time to learn a new skill!

My husband and I, gave ourselves more than enough time to get to church. What we did not realize was the GPS signal would be blocked by the walls of the old buildings in the historic town and we would have to find our own way.

The streets wound up and down getting narrower as we traveled. At times it felt as though the side mirrors would snap off from being rubbed against parked cars or sides of buildings. People darted in and out between the cars, and the bicyclists seemed to come from everywhere. Then it was the buzzing sound of the moped creeping up behind me nudging me to move over, so it could pass.

I felt totally out of my element and out of control. Then on top of it all, we were now late. Making some wrong turns and not finding any parking was making this short drive unbearable. My husband telling me to go faster, turn here, go there, do this all while the sites and sounds were clashing around me made us bicker. It was the blame game. I know you know the one. Pointing the finger at someone else, it’s his or her fault. It seems to instantly appear and more so when trying new things. Hence, why as adults, we do the same thing over and over again expecting different results instead of going through being uncomfortable for a while.

BAM! There it was. I realized what was going on in my head as the tears are streaming down my face as we solemnly walk through the church doors. I was mad…at my husband. And then, I realized that I needed to cut myself some slack and him too. So, I headed off in another direction to have some me time.

I walked into a small enclave at the side of the church and was overcome by what I saw. The small room boasted a statue of Mother Mary surrounded by hundreds of fresh bouquets and newly lit candles in celebration of Lent.

The message was loud and clear. Forgive. Instead of being mad at my husband, I needed to forgive myself. Learning something new, like driving through the narrow streets of Europe, takes time to master.

I noticed how mad I was. I was pointing the finger at my husband, instead of realizing that it’s ok to be embarrassed, to make a mistake, to not know what to do. But it is not ok to blame someone else, to feel guilty that I don’t know, to be embarrassed, to feel shameful that this is my first time in driving the narrow, windy streets of a city that is centuries old.

So, as I stood looking up the statue of Mother Mary, I begin to turn my thoughts around to being overcome with gratitude for the life I have. I began to be thankful for having the fortitude to try something different and not give up. To be grateful that I have a man beside me that loves me so deeply.

Doing something different is not always easy but that in no way means you should not try. It does mean you must forgive yourself and leave the shame, guilt and embarrassment game at the door.

Here are my 4 Tips to Practicing Forgiveness:

  1. It’s About You. Take the finger and point it back at yourself. Now matter what the circumstance, you played a part.
  2. Recognize It. Don’t let your thoughts take you down a rabbit hole. Grab a hold of them and stop the blame game. Be okay with the part that you played. End the emotional roller coaster.
  3. Where are these thoughts coming from? By noticing just how quickly our thoughts move outward and onto someone or something else will help to bring you back to the present moment.
  4. Let It Go. Seems kind of cliché to say this but it is so true. Don’t go hashing and re-hashing the circumstance. Learn from it and Let It Go so that you can GROW.

Mother Teresa says, “if we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.” So, the next time you venture out into the wide world and attempt something new, begin by forgiving yourself, have a laugh, then go out and enjoy the journey.


Merry Lynch

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