Some things are easy to learn. Some things are not so easy to learn. Some days the learning is huge. Some days it is subtle.

Some days the learning is about … me – what I believe … who I am … things I need to work on.

Some days the learning is about … others – who are hurtful or loving or kind or mean-spirited or generous or resentful or kind or angry or how gracious and compassionate people can be.

Some days the learning involves … a new approach to technology, art, gardening, writing, music or even a new checkerboard move. Some days the learning is about politics, history, literature, religion, cultures, language. And some days it’s a combination of things.

Each night before I go to bed, I ask myself “What have you learned today?” Usually, the answer comes swiftly followed by a silent prayer of gratitude for the lesson.

But when a difficult moment happened and I experienced betrayal … a promise had been made … then broken … and then lied about … and it hurt … what did I learn from that?

The more I thought about it … the more I thought about it. And I found it difficult to forget … difficult to let it go … difficult to move on.

When I went to bed that night, I asked myself “What have you learned today?” But there was no answer and I didn’t sleep well that night. I got up in the wee hours, made a cup of crystal tea and in the stillness and asked the question again: “What have you learned today?”

The answer came quickly. “Forgiveness. You could have learned about the importance of forgiveness.” I could have but questions began to surface … was the individual apologetic? … was betrayal acknowledged? … did I want to forgive?

I knew the honest answer was the same each time: “No.” and I could feel the hurt rising again. I knew I needed to review the questions again, so I began with the last question: “Do I want to forgive?”

*Want* to forgive?

When I experience betrayal or someone gossiping, making assumptions about my character; or experience cruelty, injustice, downright meanness, the word ‘forgiveness’ enters my thoughts and I try to move in that direction. But sometimes, it takes me a long time. A. Very. Long. Time.

I understand forgiveness is integral in spiritual and personal growth, so I work on it. Not for the sake of the other, but for my sake. Maybe that’s why forgiveness is called soul-work.

It’s ‘work,’ alright. Hard work.

I wish forgiveness came easily. I wish I didn’t have to experience some lessons over and over and over again. And yet because I know that the end result can be personal growth, I persist.

Two situations this past year were challenging. One situation was two-part. The first part only took a few days for me to forgive. But then it happened again – the second part of the same situation with the same person who, once again, apologized and promised to not let it happen again. I found myself back in the lesson-mode again, trying to determine the advisability of trusting that person again and of trying to forgive. It took me a little longer but gratefully, I was able to forgive that person again.

But the second situation, took a long time to move into a state of forgiveness. A full year. 🙁

Eventually, I was able to forgive – not for the sake of the other, but for the sake of my own soul.

It’s true … learning about and then entering into a posture of forgiveness is soul work. And, it’s worth it.

© June Maffin

This photo was taken at Yellow Point on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada