“Develop inner peace. You get world peace through inner peace. If you’ve got a world of people who have inner peace, then you have a peaceful world.” ~Wayne Dyer
You might remember that in February I joined Bloggers for Peace. By doing so, I committed to publishing at least one blog post per month on the topic of peace. For March, the organizer of the Bloggers for Peace movement, Kozo of Everyday Gurus, challenged us to write a post on forgiveness.
Forgiveness – wow! That is a big topic. It is a subject that can be difficult to fully grasp. It is also something that can be challenging to write about at a personal level because… well… because it is so personal.
Probably my biggest personal story of forgiveness involves my divorce. My ex-wife and I ended our marriage eight years ago. Nothing major happened between us to lead to divorce. We just didn’t take care of our relationship and slowly but surely we grew apart. But, as with most ended relationships and especially divorces, there were hurt feelings involved.
One thing I said back then though, was that it took both of us to start the relationship and both of us let it fall apart. So in my mind at the time we each contributed 50% to the demise of our marriage. I think this was an early sign of the healing process starting in me – that right out of the gate I saw that I was equally responsible for our failed marriage. The process of forgiveness had started for me that early but I still had a long way to go.
So eight years later, I feel like I have forgiven my ex-wife for what I saw as her contributions to our issues. I recognize that we are just very different people in some key areas and neither of us tried hard enough to have the hard conversations about those differences, the type of conversations that could have saved that marriage.
The more challenging piece for me though has been forgiving myself. I contributed at least 50% to the issues we had. I could have been a better husband in that marriage – no doubt. I am always harder on myself than I am on other people. I do realize however that nobody is perfect – myself included. I make mistakes. We all make mistakes. So I have forgiven myself for my divorce as well. I had to in order to put it behind me, in order to learn from it.
I believe strongly that we are all here to learn from life. To learn from life, you have to explore. You have to take risks. When you take risks, sometimes you fail. But failure is an opportunity. Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. If you let that failure keep you down then you are letting it define you. If you look closely at a failure, you will find things that you can improve on the next time you try. In other words, take that failure and move forward with it. Eventually something good will come out of it.
My failed marriage was obviously not an ideal situation but it happened. There is nothing I can do to change the fact that it happened. What I can do however, is learn from it. I now approach the divorce from a positive perspective. I think about what I have learned from the divorce and how that knowledge has changed my life for the better. From here, my goal is to use this knowledge to help influence other people’s lives in positive ways as well.
Here are some positive things that have happened as a result of the divorce.
1) I am a less judgmental person. I never really thought of myself as judgmental in the past but I do know that before going through a divorce myself, I judged people that got divorces. I thought that they did not try hard enough to make their marriages work, etc. Well now that I have gone through a divorce, I see things differently. I realize that there is no way that anyone on the outside of a relationship can ever fully understand that relationship. Some relationships just end and once they do end there is nothing you can do to bring them back. Seeing things differently about divorce and remembering how I used to judge people who were divorced has helped me accept people better for who they are, no matter the situation.
2) I am more aware of the importance of communication in all relationships – marriage, business, family, friendship, etc.. My wonderful wife, Kylie, and I have been married now for almost six years. Like all couples in relationships, we have our challenges, but we do discuss our issues. These discussions are not always easy but we both know they are important to the success and growth of our relationship. The same is true of our kids – my daughter and step-son. We make sure to take the time to have important and sometimes difficult conversations with them too and we encourage them to talk things out with us, with each other, and with their friends.
3) I have become very interested in the topic of peace. Inner Peace. World Peace. Everything that the word peace can mean. I have come to understand that world peace cannot ever really exist without each of us having inner peace (see Wayne Dyer quote above) and we cannot have inner peace without forgiving others and ourselves. As long as we are holding on to a grudge or a negative thought toward someone (including ourselves) or something we cannot grow to be more peaceful. I made the decision a while ago that I did not want a negative event like divorce to define my life and when I made that decision I forgave both my ex-wife and myself for everything related to our divorce. That forgiveness opened space in my life for exploring mindfulness and peace.
That is my personal forgiveness story. I post it here as a means of personal healing. Putting the experience in writing helps me better understand the forgiveness process that I went through. It is my hope that my personal story will help others in their own process of forgiveness.
Do you have a forgiveness story of your own? I would love to hear about it if you are willing to share.
Finally, if you are a blogger and would like to join this movement, simply click here or on any of the links for Bloggers for Peace within the text of this article to find instructions for how to do so.
With Peace and Gratitude,
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