READY: My New Year’s resolution involves ‘letting it go’

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

I’ve long since given up on the traditional making of New Year’s resolutions. All except for one resolve that’s even more of a struggle than losing weight or spending money more wisely. As I wrote last week, the year 2014 brought many personal catastrophes. Thus, my resolve to let go of the pain inflicted on me by others and to forgive them. Perhaps, you too, gentle reader, have someone in mind that you need to forgive.

I believe almost everyone is in desperate need of either forgiving or being forgiven.

I’m remembering a sermon on that very theme. The pastor abruptly stopped in the middle of Matthew 18:21-22 and asked the congregation to do one of three things: 1) go to someone you need to forgive and tell them so; 2) go to someone and ask them to forgive you; or 3) If you don’t fall into either category, go to someone and simply tell them you love them. With many members criss-crossing the sanctuary, it was impossible to know who was doing what. I walked over to a man who had hurt me deeply, and as a consequence, I had been quite rude to him. When I asked his forgiveness for my bad attitude towards him and hinted at the hurt he had done me, he had no idea what I was talking about. The injury, and my resulting bad behavior, had been mostly a product of my own cold heart and thin skin. But it gave us a chance to communicate and to clear the air. 

By the way, that Matthew passage was about how many times we are to forgive others. The answer? Seventy times seven. Figuring the number at 490 is to miss the point.

I confess I have a hard time forgiving. And in 2014, I had to do a lot of it, forgiving the bureaucrats at the DMV, Social Security, and the State Department of Revenue, along with a couple of vicious sheriff’s deputies. Also the employee who sabotaged my business, now threatening to sue me, and another one who stole from me after I had treated both with kindness and generosity. It’s been hard, but I’ve even forgiven someone I loved dearly, someone who broke my heart, spreading malicious and untrue stories about me to anyone she encountered.

Apparently, none of those folks got the memo about me being a nice person who didn’t do anything to deserve all that grief.

For those who are holding on to unforgiveness, a good theme song for 2015 comes from Disney’s FROZEN:  “Let it go, let it go … the past is in the past … I’ll rise above like break of dawn and I’ll stand in the light of day.” Like Queen Elsa in the story, we can free ourselves of a powerful, pent-up force, the power of bitterness that poisons the soul. 

So, the simple-but-oh-so-very-hard solution to unforgiveness can be summed up in three little words:  LET IT GO …!

 We can chant that mantra or be miserable in our stubborn refusal to make peace with our offenders, whether real or imagined.  Nursing anger in order to keep it warm doesn’t bring any comfort or restore wholeness.

Ernest Hemingway told this story: A Spanish father, terminally ill, decides to seek reconciliation with his estranged son Paco. The father, heartsick about the things he had done to cause his son to run away, took out an ad in El Liberal newspaper: “Paco, meet me at Hotel Montana at noon Tuesday. Forgive me as I forgive you, Papa.”

Now, Paco is a common name in Spain, and when the father gets to the hotel, he finds his child and several other “Paco’s” waiting for their fathers.

Paco is legion. He walks the lonely streets of towns everywhere, looking for something to fill the emptiness in his soul. He may not know he needs to forgive and be forgiven, so he keeps wandering about with unresolved pain. Maybe Hemingway wrote of him because, he too, had been rejected by his family. His mother disliked him so much she sent him a  birthday cake along with the gun his father had used to kill himself and a note implying he should do the same. Taking her suggestion, he did just that, leaving behind a family  drowning in the misery born of unforgiving pride.

 Is most of the pain you feel because you are holding on tight to anger? Is the anger bringing you any comfort? These two questions I ask myself, and I don’t like the answers. From anger, I know it’s a few steps away to revenge, so I keep reminding myself it’s God’s purview to exact payback  when — and if — He sees fit.

Another good theme song for 2015 comes from The Beatles: “Let it be. Let it be. Whisper words of wisdom: Let it be.” Come the evening, may I be found singing, “Let it go, Let it go, there will be an answer, let it go.”

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.