I learnt a valuable lesson the other day. Like many of us, I understand a lot of things in theory, but the practical application of that theory is often lacking. After all, it’s not until we test theories for ourselves that they become knowledge.
My lesson was in forgiveness. It started—as these lessons often do—with a Facebook post. The immediate, detached nature of social media gives us so many opportunities to generate situations that forgiveness can help solve. Flame wars are typical of these, and that’s where I found myself. Someone I knew fairly well posted something that triggered me, and we were off; he with plenty of self-justifying verbiage laden with insults; me primarily with insults.
Then he started tagging me in a series of posts to continue the assault. I told him to , “Give it up, dude,” which naturally only wound him up more. It was relentless.
I stopped responding, untagged myself, and refused to read any more of the comments that were popping up in my feed. But that fire inside kept burning. Vehement diatribes kept brewing in my brain, and the physical discomfort was intense. There was a tightening in my belly that spread into my shoulders, my jaw, my head. Sleep was impossible.
You can stop fighting, but the war doesn’t end until you surrender. Eventually, I surrendered. I took my thoughts away from dealing with my ‘opponent’ and instead focused them on admitting that I was helpless in this situation; that I didn’t know what to do, or how to manage it. I sat with that admission, open to whatever solution came to me.
It didn’t take long, and it came loud and clear: apologize.
Apologize? But he was attacking me. He was the relentless one who wouldn’t leave me alone. And? What’s your point? Apologize.
So I did. I messaged him with an apology for trying to interfere with the way he thought. It turned out to be as much an apology to me as it was to him.
Again, his response was swift. He accepted it. He apologized, in turn, for not giving up earlier. He thanked me for not blocking him. I felt an immediate sense of relief. My whole body relaxed, my mind grew more silent, and I was able to sleep.
He posted this video on my wall, with this message, “love u dude #screwpolitics”:
And I learnt something. I experienced the power of forgiveness. I got a clear understanding of how I have no right or need to interfere with someone else’s thought processes. I saw that peace is only ever an apology away. And I know now that no matter how insurmountable the apology wall may appear, it is pure illusion: you can walk without a scratch straight through that sucker any time it arises.