Judge, Jury, Executioner…And Stuff

I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.
– C.S. Lewis

I am hard on myself.

I find it easier to forgive others, but hard to forgive myself.  But if I can’t forgive myself, am I really forgiving anyone?

What sort of bullshit system do I have going here?  What sort of false piousness is this?

This time of year, I see a lot of posts on Facebook and on Twitter — self congratulatory posts — about paying it forward.  People who write statuses and tweets about the times that they give unto others.

I paid for lunch for a blind, one-legged 127 year old WWI veteran today.  He was so grateful!  Brought tears to my eyes when he thanked me!  Remember to pay it forward!

I cannot forgive myself for the time I didn’t do X or Y for someone close to me, and then she died, so now I always do X or Y for strangers in our community.  Remember to always to X!

I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else, by the way, so this isn’t me passing judgment — it’s more of an observation.  I talk about the money I donate, and the fundraising I do, and the volunteering I undertake.  I want you to know about it.  I want you to think I am a good person.

Why do I want you to think I am a good person?  Because I think I’m a bad one.  Because I can’t forgive myself for the major and minor trespasses I’ve committed.  Because I was a jerk to someone this morning, or did something imperfectly, or tried and failed and failed again, and so I have to tell myself — by telling everyone — that I cannot possibly be a Real Jerk because I do these good things for other people; because I practice kind actions, and I pay it forward; and I actively forgive.

But what I have found, in my limited experience in thirtysomething years as a human, is that it is infinitely easier to be less of a jerk to others when I am nicer to myself.  I have found that I do not have to run around, bumbling, fumbling, frantically pay for others’ drinks and brag about it on social media to compensate for my bumbles and fumbles, when I am just a little kinder to me.

It’s not just about the false piousness, though.  Failing to forgive means continuing to resent.

I don’t really want to be resentful anymore.

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Throughout the month of November, I will be posting stories of change, gratitude, forgiveness, and grace — both my own words, and the tales of carefully selected guest voices.

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