Some time ago, I posted about the importance if forgiveness. I discussed that while it is important to forgive you must learn your lesson from the experience to be sure you do not relive it. You must be willing to forgive the person and forget the transgression without forgetting your own standards.
I want to revisit this practice because I see where there is even more to this as I embark on new ventures in my own life.
If you’ve been following me for a while then you know that I am a firm believer in “loving people when they are at their most unlovable.” I learned that invaluable lesson while teaching “at-risk” youth. Some of my students didn’t receive any semblance of affection (or attention, for that matter) until they reached school. For that reason alone, I made it my business to always positively reinforce students’ behavior.
I had some doozies, believe me. It wasn’t always easy, but I did it. Heck, how do you positively reinforce a student who’s prone to mood swings and violent outbursts; throwing chairs, kicking classroom visitors and eventually has to be put in a full nelson (wrestling hold) and CARRIED to the office? Hell, if I know – but you find a way.
Me, I just kept loving him. I praised him when he was good and told him how much better than he was than the poor choices he made when he made those choices. I brought him gifts when he had a good week and let him participate in parties when he had a good month. Over time, the rewards stopped, but the praises never did. But you know what else came to a halt??? His outbursts.
I knew this child’s story. I knew about the pain and abuse he’d endured. I knew why it hurt him to feel good and why he was more comfortable with pain and suffering. I even understood why he was more at peace doling out pain to others than showing them the affection he actually felt.
But let me tell you, it took work. It took time, attention and dedication. It took intense reflection and consideration. It took teamwork, preparation and PRAYER (woo, did it ever)! It took me WAY out of my comfort zone, too. It required me, each day, to go into the trenches unsure of whether or not I would be wounded. in short, it was counter-intuitive as hell!
My sole purpose for putting myself in the line of fire was so I could help heal this young man – and my teaching environment. Never sure what I might encounter, I chose to love nonetheless. I had to forgive him for hitting, biting, kicking, scratching and hurting those whom I’d been charged to look after. I had to forgive him for hurting me. I had to forgive him for embarrassing me in front parents, peers and perfect strangers. I had to forgive him for making me question my ability as a teacher (and if I was in the right line of work).
Forgiving this baby wasn’t enough, I had to radically forgive him. I had to not only release him of any liability for what he’d done to me, but I had to then go in with blind faith – not in Him, but in something greater than both of us – expecting nothing but the best. “Today would be the day.”
No matter how loud, wrong and unruly this little boy was (and trust me, he could be loud, wrong and unruly) I vowed to stay the same. I remember him telling me that even as I CARRIED him, Powerplex style, to the front office he felt loved. What?!
Even as I disciplined and practically body slammed this little boy, he felt nothing but my love for him. He felt my desire for him to do better, to have more, to be more. He knew.
So, as always, it begs a question: What in your life requires your radical forgiveness? What in your life requires you to put yourself in the line of fire, to put it all on the line and sacrifice your Self to put it in order and turn it to rights? What is it?
No matter what it is, I’m here to tell you that it’s not impossible, it’s not insurmountable, it’s not too big. Love conquers everything…EVERYTHING!
Trust in Love and conquer the hurt. Good luck and Namaste.