Some people like Valentine’s Day. Others see it as nothing more than a hallmark holiday created to sell cards, flowers and chocolates, and promote the restaurant business. Maybe it is, but I like it anyway. I choose not to think of it as a conspiracy of consumerism. Instead, I embrace it as a conspiracy of love — a day set aside to elevate our awareness of love and to share our feelings with those who are important to us.
This year I’ve decided to shake things up a bit by adding someone new to my list of valentines: Me. But instead of chocolates or flowers, I’m going to express my love with forgiveness. I’m forgiving all the hurts that are still with me in some way, shape or form. Big or small, deliberate or accidental, recent or distant past, they’re all included.
I like forgiving. Sometimes it’s easier than others, of course. But I’ve learned that in all cases, it’s very freeing and brings peace. I’ve also learned another valuable lesson: moving on is not the same as letting go.
To me, moving on signifies that we’re not staying stuck or allowing whatever happened to be a roadblock in our lives. That’s a good thing. However, I think if we don’t also let go (i.e., forgive fully), we end up moving forward carrying the hurts with us.
They may not all be big, or life-changing or even extraordinarily significant in the grand scheme of things. But if we don’t let go and forgive, these wounds become like rocks that take up space in our hearts. Even pebble- like little grudges or small offenses that we’ve pushed aside eventually pile up. Unforgiven or unaddressed hurts of any size leave a destructive residue emanating from the flock of negative feelings that circle us when we’ve been wounded.
Deep down, spiritually we probably all realize that forgiveness and letting go is the path to true healing, but intellectually and emotionally it can, at times, seem like a slippery slope. Even counterintuitive. On occasion, we can come up with reasons not to forgive and easily rationalize our position. (Note to self: If you have to convince yourself that what you’re doing is “right,” it probably isn’t.) For example, we tell ourselves that forgiving is condoning bad behavior, or the “offenders” really don’t deserve
forgiveness — especially true if they haven’t acknowledged or apologized for their actions!
On the surface, all these reasons can seem quite logical. But, as Shakespeare’s Hamlet said, there’s the rub. Forgiveness isn’t part of the external world, governed by the rules of logic and the quid pro quo demands of our ego. It’s part of the internal world, guided by the ways of our heart and the needs of our soul.
The way of the heart is love and the need of the soul is joy. And I choose love and joy.
So, my plan for Valentine’s Day 2022: In my heart, I’ll be wishing peace for those who have hurt me (including any who might not be sorry or acknowledge their wrongdoing). And I’ll be throwing out all those rocks that have accumulated and are taking up space in my heart. Who knows, I may also be humming Frozen’s “Let It Go” as I do it.
Even if this proves challenging (and it might!!), I’m not worried because I’ve got God. He’ll give me all the grace I need to make more room in my heart for love and answer my soul’s yearning for joy. He’ll help; He always does.