The Happiness of Forgiveness

800px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_Project

Image – Rembrandt – The return of the prodigal son

When your conscience is clear, life appears to be more relaxing, colours appear brighter, friends seem friendlier, and family is easier to live with. It’s just the process of managing the difficult parts of life that makes our conscience prickly, our friendships hard to negotiate and our family glower at us.

Conscience is a strange concept really, are we the only creatures with one? It can be defined as ” a built-in sense of what’s right and what’s wrong”. As humans we have memories for reliving situations when we were unfair, or angry and even more when other people were like that with us – we often respond thinking that others remember those situations as clearly as we do.

Some of us have a concept of a being outside of us, who knows everything we have done. Then we have this need to appease that being as well as our own conscience.

When we ask others what we have done to create tension in our relationships, we feel upset at the answers even though we may know deep inside that they are right. Often we know the answers already, we didn’t listen to them, we were too abrupt, we pushed past when we should have waited, we forgot to do, to say, to prepare something. We lead busy lives and we forget others do as well.

It always helps to forgive. And this is a prickly word for some of us, and for all of us at various times. When we were little it is a really hard word, because we are developing our sense of self, and we are upset when others seem to violate that. When we are older and we have gone through complex relationship issues or have had a divorce, or a death of a loved one, or when we are going through a traumatic set of circumstances which others create, it is a very hard word to think about.

In the Jewish calender this is the month of Elul, and it is a month known for introspection about the personal behaviour, thoughts and attitudes towards others and forgiveness of others. As I have been learning about this, I have had to think about my behaviour and ask forgiveness, as well as forgive others.