Good Morning, friends.
I am listening to “Jealous” by Nick Jonas and sipping some Sumatra coffee out of my Anthropologie “K” mug. It’s Friday, so my mind is on all the good stuff going on in my world right now as opposed to all of the negative. But I wanted to take a moment to talk about something that’s been popping up, over, and over, and over in my life.
This concept of Forgiveness.
I know I sound like a broken record. I know you’re sick of hearing about it/reading about it. But I truly think it is the most important thing we can ever do, and the most beautiful gift you can give to yourself and another.
So which side of the dodecahedron that is Forgiveness has been landing face up, these days?
I’ve been obsessed, as of late, with trying to decipher when to forgive.
Let me preface this. One of my favorite soccer players (they’re all my favorite, really, let’s be honest) really disappointed me, not too long ago. Ryan Babel, who formerly played in the English Premier League for my brother’s favorite club, Liverpool (and therefore has been being followed on all social media platforms by yours truly) made an uh-oh. But… actually, it wasn’t an uh-oh. Let me explain.
He decided to respond to a less-than-positive tweet from a female fan by telling her that he doesn’t speak to females about football, and to “go get her dad or brother,” or something like that.
Obviously, the feminist volcano in me began to bubble and I couldn’t believe what I Just read. What I later discovered, after following the impending train wreck, was that he really meant what he said.
In an attempt to “cover his tail,” Ryan began offering a bunch of follow up tweets that just dug him a bigger hole. Saying things like that he doesn’t have anything against women and appreciates his female fans… but only a man could truly understand the ins and outs of football.
Obviously, as a die-hard football (soccer) fan, I was mega offended. Especially being an American, where “football” only means one thing. I’m always, always, always the only girl in the room who can tell you anything about what’s going on in Europe in regards to “football.” It’s the only sport I follow, the only sport I watch, the only sport I keep tabs on, the only sport I like, the only sport I attempt to still play. So for Mr. Babel to dismiss my intelligence, or capacity to be knowledgeable of it, because of my vagina… well it pissed me off.
So what does this have to do with forgiveness?
Well, at one point, Ryan Babel finally got ahold of his publicist, (or maybe some common sense), and gave a sincere-sounding, heartfelt apology. He was sorry to all he offended. That wasn’t his intention. Blah blah blah.
So here’s the question. DO I HAVE TO FORGIVE HIM?
Now, I know Ryan didn’t attack me, personally. I know he didn’t call me, personally, and ask me for forgiveness. I know I have never met this guy and I can’t decipher what his true feelings are in the situation. But based on the evidence I do have—I don’t believe he’s really sorry. I don’t believe he didn’t mean to offend anyone. I believe he’s a misogynist. I believe he ran wild with his “freedom of speech” and is trying to recover from the damage his true, ugly feelings caused.
So if he’s not really sorry, do I have to forgive?
I’ll examine another event that, perhaps, is more relevant.
When I was younger, my parents, so graciously, gave me a cell phone. T-Mobile. It was a red flip phone. Maybe Samsung? I was just happy it was mine.
We had a family plan. I only had like 100 texts a month I could send. Something crazy like that. But, consistently, every month, I would go FAR beyond my texting allowance. Every month it was the same thing. I would stalk the mailbox. When the bill came, I would attempt to intercept it. But, obviously, my parents always found out. I’d get in colossal trouble. Get grounded. Get my cell phone taken away. I’d put up a front like I had learned my lesson and I was sorry and yada, yada, yada.
But as soon as I got my phone back, I was right back to living like we had Unlimited Text Messaging.
But my parents always forgave me. Always gave me another chance. Always let me try to prove myself again.
I wonder if they knew that I wasn’t really sorry for texting, but just sorry I couldn’t intercept the bill in time and somehow, magically pay for it before they saw it. They had to have, right? So why choose to forgive me when I was never really sorry? Here’s what I think:
- I think they knew I didn’t have the brain capacity to truly understand what I was doing. Yes, I was 15 or 16, or however old I was. I knew what right and wrong were. But as a stupid, little, insecure, teenybopper—I was completely consumed with myself; wholly obsessed with me and my world. The epitome of selfishness. And not because I was this terrible soul… but because hormones and high school and drama, ya know? And to some extent—I would have to accept a punishment for my actions. It’s not like they just turned the other cheek and let me do whatever the hell I felt like doing. But they always chose to see the best in me, and believe that I could rise above my own self-centeredness.
- They were overwhelmingly concerned with setting an example for me. So here I am, a teenager. I can’t drive yet, but I’m about to be at that space in my life. But when your mobility is restricted like that, your UNIVERSE is in your home. It is nothing like it is now, where I am never at my house, and never see my roommate, and probably spend more time in traffic than I do within my own apartment. I was always, always, always at home. Everyday. Everynight. Surrounded by these people that looked just like me and kept buying me stuff. So, since I’m in this terrarium of my parents and Colin (older brother responsible for my soccer-affections) they had an insane responsibility to make sure that terrarium was a colorful, happy, responsible, well-sustained one. Because one day, I would bust out of it and have to run my own little ecosystem. And I’m sure they knew I would look back on instances like these for guidance.
- Their hearts. Something happens when you grow up. This earthquake happens, one day, and your parents are no longer these towers of safety and protection and security. That idea topples and they become the same height as you—in all senses of the word. You become peers. You start conducting yourself in a similar way and you realize that they are not infinite sources of wealth and wisdom. That they’re human. And that you’re human. And those insecure thoughts you are constantly having may not actually ever go away. That they had and still have the same thoughts. That they don’t have it all together and that you are more alike than you are different. And in those moments, I examine how closely our hearts are synced. And how these intricate peaks and valleys in my personality are just as much from them as my nose and my earlobes are. And I realize that this pensive mindset I always exist in is probably the same one they lived in. And this compassion I feel when I take the time to reflect was probably passed down to me. And that all the grace and goodness they showed to me was integrated in their DNA—in our DNA. And that they were just so good to me because they are simply good people.
So I’m still left with the question, when do I forgive?
Do I wait for, what I deem to be, a sincere apology? Do I wait until the behavior changes enough for my liking to offer true forgiveness? Or do I dole out forgiveness as freely and generously as possible? If Forgiveness is truly this precious gift—does it deserve to be handed out willy-nilly? Just because you spit out the words “I’m sorry” or hang your head when you speak to me—just because my heart leans toward compassion as a response… does that mean you are worthy of my forgiveness?
As much as my fingers want to type, “No,” and to tell you to be stubborn about when people wrong you—I simply can’t. Forgiveness, at its core, in its nature, is a willow tree. It does not wait for a specific breeze to begin dancing—it just dances.
So to Ryan Babel – I forgive you for saying those crazy things you said. Truly. I still think you’re an incredible footballer, and I will try not to hold this against you in my soul.
And to my parents – I’m really sorry I was so crazy when I was a teenager.
And to everyone who I will seek forgiveness from in the (probably near) future—if I don’t look like it at the moment, or I don’t sound like it, or I’m hard to believe—please know that I am truly sorry. Sorry that I’ve put you in the headspace to question whether or not I am worthy of your forgiveness. But please know that forgiveness is not something that we dole out based on who is or who isn’t worthy; who is or isn’t really sorry. It’s a practice. A state of mind. A lifestyle.
So when do I forgive? Always. Everyday. No exceptions.
Try Not To Fuck Up,