Have you ever hurt somebody and felt really bad about it? That's a healthy and natural response that helps us not do it again in the future. And after my suicide attempt, where I drove head-on into another vehicle at 60 mph, I began healing and it sunk in that there was another person in the car hit. I knew from the police that he was alive, but I wanted to meet him and apologize for everything face-to-face with him. I wanted to show him how guilty I felt and how I was turning the bad experience into something that can help others.
And that day, the day I met Lenny Ross, is one I will never forget. We arranged a meeting at a coffee shop, and I was so nervous. He arrived, I walked up to him, and I gave him a big hug. The only words I managed to say were, "I'm so sorry." He took a step back, looked at me, and said, "That's all I wanted to hear." And from that moment I realized I was just forgiven by someone who I'd done so much wrong towards. And later I learned that he had forgiven me on the hospital bed the night of the crash.
Lenny inspired me to look at forgiveness in a different light. Not as something your parents make you say when you sibling "apologizes" to you, but rather as a powerful form of hope, trust, and support that we can all share with each other. The forgiveness you give others could be something small. Next time you're stuck in traffic with a screaming baby in the backseat and somebody cuts you off, try letting the anger go and forgiving the person. Same thing in restaurants, planes, or anywhere else. Anger doesn't help anybody (the topic of righteous anger is beyond the scope of this blog post), and forgiveness is the greatest antidote to anger.
This is especially true when it comes to forgiving yourself. Like I said, I felt really bad for what I had done. It was mainly through therapy and time that I was able to forgive myself for what I had done. And extreme guilt is a common symptom of depression.
And if you notice the symptoms of depression in your friend and they aren't being a good friend, then it's possible that it's the depression causing the split in your relationship. In that case, do what you can to support your friend in healing. Then once they progress far enough in their journey to recovery, they are able to be a good friend again.
However, if it just seems that the person will keep hurting you and there's nothing you can do to help them be a better person, then maybe a different kind of forgiveness is called for here. A forgiveness where you let go of your anger and do your best to move on from them.
The point of all this is to love and respect our fellow human beings. To help each other through our challenges. To share the fact that they matter and can't be erased.