A friend always told me I was too forgiving for my own good. Over the years, it became a catchphrase, of sorts. I’d tell everyone the same thing but I’d never change that about myself. That was by design, too. To me, everyone or at least, most people had redeemable traits. It was our unique responsibility as human beings to be able to forgive, and not just forgive, but go a step beyond.
Redemption wasn’t up to God. God died years ago. It was up to all of us, every day. So, I’d always keep my doors open for those who wronged me or caused me harm. As long as they could repent or perhaps, show me proof of their changed ways, I was more than happy to accommodate them in my life. I also believed that we lived for other people. If no one thought of us, how different was death?
Eventually, I settled on this blatant forgiveness being an expectation instead of virtue. I expected this of everyone. As much as I’d let mistakes and faults pass over the pages of time, I often found myself being reminded of the few flaws I did have, and for them, I was continually reprimanded and never forgiven. It was rarely from other people, though. I was a mean critic when it came to my failings.
One such fault, that I seem to have realised today, and which has me rattled as I sit on this chair surrounded by the warmest lights on a fading winter evening is that unless someone is truly despicable, they have redeeming traits. That much is true. However, to expect people to earn their way back is unreasonable. No one should have to earn anyone’s forgiveness.
The truth of the matter is that everyone eventually dies or has no one think of them, both of which are again the same. Everybody dies; it was our common redeeming trait. It was grounds enough for us to let people in again and again. Death or the possibility thereof was the final redeeming trait, and no one had to earn it. All of us already had.
I wondered, was forgiveness then a laurel earned or was it a gift you gave others? I realise now that forgiveness was in looking at someone, whilst you still could, and smiling at them as you let them in.
Most were trying their best to be good, howsoever they defined it, and then they died.