So I just saw Les Miserables, I told myself before the movie started that I would not cry…...yeah, right! I love how every time I re-visit that story whether it be on stage, or on TV, I discover something new because there are so many themes to be learned from Les Miserables. The theme that I wanted to bring up today was about forgiveness. The main difference between Javert and Jean Valjean was that the former could not forgive and the latter could (I’m not going to say much more about the plot, so if you don’t know the story, I’m not going to spoil it for you). Not only could Javert not forgive Valjean for a petty crime committed, but he could not forgive HIMSELF for his perception of “failing” which caused him such self-torment. Valjean made a conscious decision to forgive others, as well as himself, over and over, and that allowed him to change his life, for the better.
We’ve heard it said that forgiveness is powerful, but what I wanted to emphasize today, is that self forgiveness, in my opinion, is even more powerful. There are a lot of things I’ve had to forgive myself for, but let me give you one silly example.
When I was about 12 years old, I had gotten a pair of trendy sandals and when I wore them for the first time my Dad said something derogatory about how my feet looked in them. I don’t think he said it to hurt my feelings, and honestly, I think he thought I would have a snappy comeback as was my custom. But it doesn’t matter, what does matter is that my feelings were hurt and I walked away crying. What’s funny is that even while I was crying, I knew I was making a bigger deal out of what he said than what he meant, but in retrospect, I think my pre-pubescent hormones were raging! In any case, after a short while (because I knew it was ridiculous) I forgot about the whole situation. However, from that day on I had ACCEPTED the “fact” that I had ugly feet! It wasn’t until many years later when I remembered what my Dad said that I confronted him about it. He promptly apologized but what he admitted next astounded me. He said, “I don’t remember saying that. I don’t even remember ever thinking that.” I realized he hadn’t meant it and yet all those years I just accepted that I had terribly ugly, deformed, Fred Flintstone feet!
Now, understand, my Dad and I have worked out our issues, and I really have learned that blame, shame, regret and guilt are all worthless. I also learned from that situation, that I had to forgive myself for accepting the lie. As soon as I did, I was released and able to FULLY forgive my Dad as well, which in turn, released him from feeling guilty about saying what he did to me. You see how that works?
Has someone said something about you that has kept you in shackles? Don’t hesitate, forgive them, it doesn’t matter whether you think they deserve it or not, do it for you. Then don’t stop there, remember to promptly forgive yourself. Like Valjean, you’ll be able to move on to a richer, more productive life; a life you deserve; a life much “less miserable”.
-Tessa L. Charles
-Tessa L. Charles