“Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.” ~ George McDonald
The compassion of true forgiveness is the state of grace necessary to move forward with peace in our lives. Whether it’s forgiveness for others who we feel have wronged us or toward ourselves for self-directed resentments, nothing physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually positive can arise from grudge-holding.
Cats have taught me a lot about forgiveness and unconditional love. Some mornings I’ve watched myself racing around, running late for work, completely ignoring my cat’s obvious affection-sharing efforts. When I arrive home later in the day, he’s completely forgotten the previous morning as we settle in for a sweet snuggle. In these types of situations, I’m much harder on myself than he is on me. I feel badly for not giving him the attention he wants and think about it during the day, sometimes telling myself I can be a better cat-mom. Does this persistent negative thinking serve anything? No. Certainly we can learn from our actions, but we absolutely don’t need to belabor scenarios for which we cannot go back and re-live.
Some days I watch my cats swat and hiss over who wins the prized sun puddle or who gets to play with the new catnip toy, but by the end of the day, they undoubtedly wind up snoozing happily together on the end of the bed. The struggle from earlier in the day? Forgotten. I think about the time in a day I’ve wasted worrying about a disagreement with a friend or family member. This is time I can’t retrieve and absolutely nothing of value came from it. I’ve always heard we should never go to bed angry…cats have this one nailed.
How about the act of forgiving ourselves? Many times this is a more difficult task than absolving others. Whether it’s releasing ourselves from blame for something that happened many years ago or simply yesterday, our ability to live a full and joyful life depends heavily on the freedom of self-forgiveness. We cannot go back and physically change a situation; however, we can learn from it and make amends with ourselves and others.
Honestly, is there one single positive outcome that can arise from feeling harshly about a past situation? The short answer is “No.” My cats have been known to pilfer food off the counter, make off with my favorite necklaces, scratch and bite me, and steal each other’s food. Not once have I sensed any sort of self-directed pain or regret from them. Of course, I realize we can’t become blind to wrongdoing. It’s absolutely necessary to look at our choices and learn from them. Maybe we choose differently next time and maybe we won’t, but everything is a choice and no amount of grudge-holding can change the past.
Sure, cats can act a little self-absorbed from time to time (to time to time to time), but their ability to live in the moment, forgive, and live peacefully is unmatched.