By Lyndsey Hafer-Williams
I had to forgive someone today, and it was terribly hard for me to let it all go.
I have found that, generally, I am very good at forgiving others and their grievances towards me. Everyone makes mistakes, screws up, puts the wrong foot forward, and occasionally blows it big time.
From my life experience, I can see that most folks are doing the best they can with what they have to work with at any given time. If someone apologizes, I am happy to greet them with open arms, a warm smile, and let bygones be bygones.
But this one was tough.
I love, trust, and count on this person constantly. She has been through the trenches with me and has also been around for all the good times in my life. She celebrates my success, cheers me on, and comforts me when I am low. She knows my heart, my intentions, and my desire for harmony. She knows all of my flaws, foibles, and insecurities.
It should be so easy to forgive her (I’ve been seriously trying for over a decade), but it wasn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
I had to forgive myself…
I’ve made some unbelievably serious mistakes in my life. Not little missteps or screw-ups, I’m talking huge, life-altering, earth shattering, horrendous mistakes that exploded my world and almost caused me to lose everything that I held dear.
I spent years making up for those mistakes, paying penance and regaining the trust of friends, family, and colleagues. I accepted full responsibility for my actions, apologized profusely to anyone who would listen, and tried my damndest to make amends.
Eventually, I was extended forgiveness (by many people and in many ways), and in turn, I became wiser and more empathetic to the troubles of others.
It became easy for me to forgive the little things that were simple human error, and I also learned to readily forgive those who hurt or wounded me on a larger scale.
I knew that to live, and to live well, we must forgive those who hurt us. I knew that, as a woman who yearned to live her best and most authentic life, I had to let go of injustices from others—not for their sake but for mine.
I learned that forgiveness of others allowed me the freedom to move away from the mindset of victim and that gave me much needed control over my life.
What I didn’t realize is that I also had to forgive myself…
This was the most difficult, challenging, gut-wrenching, soul-blistering experience that I’ve ever gone through. I could say that I forgave myself for my previous actions, but until I really took a look at the harm I caused, the people I hurt, and the way it affected my soul, the anger and shame wouldn’t leave me.
Oftentimes, I found myself making decisions based on feelings of guilt rather than what was truly best for me. It was commonplace for all of the self-hatred, ugly, negative thoughts to pop up and color my judgements and reactions in any given situation.
It was an unsustainable way to live if I wanted to live genuinely and in tune with my spirit.
We need to forgive ourselves just like our bodies forgive us!
At one point or another, we have all filled our bodies with processed junk food and/or alcohol. We rarely get enough sleep, most of us maintain huge levels of busyness and burdens, and we carry outrageous stress, strapped to our back with no ease in sight.
We allow our minds to toss and turn, spinning and twisting through never ending rabbit holes of anxiety and worry that drain us to our very core. Yet we keep going, day after day, drowning our bodies in a toxic blend of mismanagement and messages of fear and doubt.
But you know what?
Our bodies keep functioning and regenerating and generally keep us upright and moving forward!
The way I started the process of self forgiveness was simply by thanking my body for staying alive and relatively healthy. I acknowledged how hard I had been on my body for so many years with all the yo-yo dieting, diet pills, binge eating, working too hard, not enough rest, too much stress, and the list goes on and on.
I realized that I was able to sit on my deck listening to the birds sing, visit with friends, or go about my daily life, with my heart beating, my lungs expanding, my spinal cord and nerves functioning properly, and my brain directing it all.
I was suddenly aware that this body, the one that I’d hated for so long, had rallied on a daily basis and had constantly forgiven me for the abuse I gave it, and just got on with the business of living.
Learning how to accept and forgive yourself is a crucial first step to the path of a greater forgiveness in your life. In other words, forgiveness related to the physical body can lead to forgiveness of the spirit.
And, if you can learn to forgive yourself for how you’ve treated and cursed your body, it might open the door for greater forgiveness in all areas of your life.
Truly forgiving myself was a slow, years-long process, but what worked for me was getting back to basics, back into my kitchen and lovingly preparing simple whole plant foods for myself and my wife.
There’s something so therapeutic about taking simple fruits and veggies and combining them with nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, and spices until they transform into something different!
In the process of batch cooking, I found myself changing into a brand new person!
I have been faithfully batching the CFDG Plant Fueled Meal Plans for two years. Not because I’m a superwoman or because I feel like I have to do it.
No. I have been there in my kitchen, every single week, because it gives me a consistent outlet in which to think and process life. It allows me to feel the big feelings instead of pushing them down deep inside.
Batching helped me center my soul, and I was slowly able to let go of all the pent up anger, shame, and negativity that I carried inside. It was at that point, forgiveness took root, mindset began to shift, perspective changed, and the sharp claws of guilt slowly began to lose their grip.
As I started nourishing my body with good plant based nutrition, feeling better physically, clearer mentally, and releasing weight, I was finally able to fully embrace and love myself for the flawed, complicated, imperfect, magical creature that I am.
This year the process went to a whole new level as I participated in Lighten Up and learned how to take the necessary steps to make peace with my body and revolutionize my relationship with food. The program also gave me a movement practice that completely changed how I move in the world and fills me with joy every time I get on my mat.
And that, my friend, is the point…
You must take action. You must take those first steps to feel better, release guilt and shame, and move forward in creating the life you desire.
Forgiveness is nothing but love in action!
It is one of the ways we, as flawed human beings, relate to one another. Without forgiving others, we would be unable to function in this world in a meaningful way.
There are definitely those occasions where extending grace, mercy, and absolution to someone is difficult, but we all know deep down that in order to be free of soul crushing anger, we must practice forgiveness.
So, why shouldn’t we treat ourselves with the same love in action that we provide and receive from others?
Forgiving myself has transformed the way I live my life and relate to the world. It has allowed me to love and to genuinely take good care of the one and precious body that I have been gifted.
It has completely changed the way I view life. I choose to laugh. A lot. I try to never take myself or anything else too seriously.
Most days, I can sail through the choppy waters of life with good judgment and an openness that can only come from the joy of a free soul that knows forgiveness.
Forgiveness, this love in action, changed my home, my mindset, and my energy for life. It lifted me up farther than I thought possible. This single act completely electrified my life and gave me hope, peace, and the opportunity to live fully and without hesitation.
I know it can for you, too, my dear friend.
So what are you waiting for?
Have you started the work of finding forgiveness for yourself? Talk to us in the comments below, we would love to hear about it.
Oil Free Chimichurri Sauce
Oil Free Chimichurri Sauce
Makes 1 cup
- 1 gently-packed cup cilantro leaves (some stems are okay / 20 g)
- 1 gently-packed cup flat-leaf parsley leaves (some small stems are okay / 20 g)
- 5 rounded tablespoons ripe avocado (about 100 g)
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped green onion (discard root end)
- 2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper (about 5 turns)
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
Place all of the ingredients into your food processor bowl and blend well, scraping down the sides of your bowl as needed, until super creamy and smooth.
Store in an airtight container in your fridge.
Click here to pick up the recipe for the perfectly baked tempeh pictured in the last photo.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with forgiveness.