Forgiveness Prayers are HARD

by P. Braithwaite

Those Oprah life classes make forgiveness seem easy. Sprinkle some quotes, cue Iyanla and PRESTO! Forgiveness for all…

For me, it sucks. Holding a grudge is like emotional hoarding, and this prayer challenge makes me feel like someone is asking me to throw out my 300 eye glass cases that I know I might actually need!

Yes. I’m hoarding anger and resentment. They box me in. They keep me secure. They’re probably suffocating me, but on most days I don’t notice. Either way, I’m trying to purge the anger — one day at a time.

Here are my reflections thus far:

1. I try to avoid forgiving: My original plan was to forgive every morning, in between meditating and reading. But almost every morning, I forget. Thus, my forgiveness prayers happen on the train. And it’s usually preceded by: shit! I have to f*cking pray. Hey, whatever works, right?

2. Fake it till you make it: I thought I’d utter my forgiveness prayer and angels would come thru my air vents, Jesus would weep, canaries would sing the Star-Spangled Banner, and I’d be healed.

Yeah, not so much.

Most days I’m not sure I’m REALLY forgiving, but I do it anyway. Trust me, when weeping Jesus shows up, you all will be the first to know.

3. Anger is bullshit: I used to think anger was awesome, but as I’ve been forgiving and forgiving and forgiving again, I realize I’m not angry — I’m really really sad. I’m starting to remember the good moments, and I get even more sad. I get these waves of sadness that just push my shoulders down and make me feel heavy. I feel so sorry for what was and what will never be. Anger was awesome because it was contained. Anger was awesome because it felt mobile. Anger was awesome because I felt badass, like having a weapon in my pocket. Sadness feels passive. It also feels expansive — like it can’t be contained. That makes sadness a bit scary. It’s not the most comfortable feeling, but I know (hope??) it’s part of letting go.

4. As long as I’m resentful, I’m connected: Emotions are like invisible strings that connect people. Just like love binds; anger keeps me connected. Thus, the only way to be free is to forgive. I’ve got to cut the chord. Let’s be clear, I didn’t come to this place on purpose. In a fit of forgiveness-frustration I thought: eff this, I should be praying for myself. Then I thought, no no…he needs my prayers. And then I realized, in a way I can’t fully articulate, that they’re one in the same: a prayer for him is a prayer for my highest good. This wasn’t a happy realization — I was actually a little disappointed. I was hoping for a way out. No one wants to identify with someone they’re mad at. Especially the person I’m mad at… (yeah, I’m judging. Sue me)

Anyway…those are the realizations thus far. I will keep fighting the prayer fight! In the meantime, if anyone is doing this with me (Hi Whit! Hi Sophie!), please share your thoughts!!