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As a human being on this planet, I have ample opportunities to practice forgiveness. Every time I drive my car, I may encounter someone who cuts me off, fails to use their turn signal or drives slowly in the passing lane. Each time I dine out, there is the potential for slow service, a forgotten request or an error in the check. When I email, text or even talk to someone, my words might be taken in a different way than I intended. A stranger or a friend might snap at me because they are going through a rough time and their nerves are frayed.

I recently read the book, The Disappearance of the Universe by Gary R. Renard. The author advocates forgiveness as perhaps the most important thing we can do while we inhabit this place we call Earth. Renard states, “It’s just as important to forgive the little things as the apparently big things. Anything that disturbs your peace of mind is disturbing your peace of mind, and that’s not the peace of God. You have to be willing to forgive everything equally.”

Now when I drive and another driver irritates me, I say, “I forgive you.” I immediately feel better and soon completely forget the incident. It is a relief to let that sort of trivial event go quickly! I also realize that I too have cut people off, forgotten to indicate a turn, butted in line and driven slowly when someone wanted to pass me. I am not a perfect driver!

Today’s political scene is the most polarized climate I ever recall. Blame and anger are predominating the media and conversations on both sides. Many people are throwing their arms up in exasperation and confusion of what to do or think during these unsettling times. When the world seems crazy to me, I narrow it down to my own life and see what I can do differently. Renard states, “The people of the world will never live in peace until the people of the world have inner peace.”

I have unlimited chances to forgive in my life. Sometimes a memory of the past pops into my mind. I consider this resurfacing of a remembered event or conversation as needing resolution. And that resolution usually involves forgiveness. Often that is a process just for me requiring self-forgiveness. When I pause and dive into the memory, I acknowledge that what transpired may not have been “ideal” but I can’t change anything about it except how I think about it. I feel lighter if I forgive.

If I desire a loving world, I must live a loving life. “Love Holds No Grievances.” When I examine any and all grievances in my own life and move towards love, I experience peacefulness and fewer regrets. “…Forgiveness is the only thing that can really change the world, and that isn’t even the purpose of forgiveness! The real benefit of true forgiveness go to the forgiver.”

I like most people, have had some big hurts. The divorce of my parents, being fired from a job, my ex-husband’s affair and our subsequent divorce, the death of my dad, to name a few. I suffered grief, anger and other troubling emotions for a long time (too long-but I forgive myself now). If I had been more adept at forgiveness, I would have moved on and let go sooner and more freely. Renard says, “Even if you get broadsided and you’re hurting, if you’re willing to forgive then the pain doesn’t last anywhere near as long.” A tough lesson for me but I acknowledge that I am improving. I can still experience deep hurt by words and events, but I recover much more quickly now by being aware of the importance of forgiveness.

I have observed many situations in which I can see that someone else needs to forgive another. But isn’t it always easier to judge or suggest someone else needs to forgive than turn our analysis towards ourselves? Renard states in his book, “You can save the world by concentrating on your own forgiveness lessons.”

I want to see love and healing in the world but I can’t expect to see it “out there” if I don’t live it in my own heart. So each day I practice. I am making progress. I realize that forgiveness is a life-long process. If I watch the news and feel distraught, I first reduce my viewing of media and go within. I ask myself how I can take more responsibility of my own life and thoughts. I observe my judgments. I question myself in how I might become more loving, peaceful and forgiving. And I practice, practice, practice every day.

What in your life is awaiting forgiveness?