“She learned to look at things more softly. And even when the gift wasn’t returned, she had received her own.”
It’s a funny thing – forgiveness. Maybe one of the hardest lessons to learn. And it’s not like a recipe from which you can get the same results every time. That would be too easy. No, forgiveness wants, needs, to be learned and relearned, over and over.
I used to think it was like a debt, you were letting someone else off the hook. And that felt so wrong. Like to forgive was to say it didn’t matter. But that’s not really it — partially though, the letting off the hook part is right — but it’s not the other person, it’s you. It’s releasing yourself. Giving yourself freedom from the hurt, the anger, the torture of reliving the situation.
But even in knowing this, it’s still hard though. Sometimes I find myself replaying a conversation in my head, oh, I should have said this! How could they have done that??? And everything tenses up – I can feel it. I can actually feel my face get harder. That can’t be pretty. And it takes a few beats before I think, what am I doing? What a waste of time. And I learn the lesson again.
Someone told me once, if you’re nervous, like going to the doctor for example, to wiggle your toes. I tried it during an exam, and it worked. For some reason, it’s hard to tense up when wiggling your toes. I could feel my cheeks get softer, and in the softness, I began to smile.
I didn’t have a story in mind when I started painting her portrait. But the softness in her face gave me the story, gave me the gift. The ease of her coming smile. That’s the grace I wanted, still want, every day. That was the gift. I pass by her face each day. I give thanks. (Maybe even wiggle.) And I let go. Softly.