Self-forgiveness Begins with Others

Jack was playing center outfield during the third game of the season. He’ll be 10 this year and is starting to refine his baseball talents. It’s his favorite sport with football a close second.

In the fifth inning a pop fly was hit in his direction. He got under it, adjusted his stance, focused on the falling ball but couldn’t hold on to it and dropped it. He grabbed the ball and threw it to second base. The batter was safe.

He had a tough time letting that error go. Jack is one of the better players on the team. He commits to keeping his skills sharp with additional practices in the off season and learning by watching professional MLB players on television.
Baseball player jumps high to catch a fly ballDuring the ride home, Jack was silent, though his team won. His father asked him what’s wrong. He just kept repeating he should have caught that pop up in the fifth. He couldn’t forgive himself.

His father reminded him of a last game they played when one of Jack’s teammates, Taylor, missed a pop up, causing the team to lose the game. Jack criticized Taylor all the way home and blamed him for losing the game. “Perhaps the withheld forgiveness that Jack held towards Taylor is the same withheld forgiveness Jack feels towards himself,” his father thought. He shared that thought with his son. Then he thought about it in his own life.

Jack’s father is a salesperson and does quite well. He is one of the top producers in the company. But he is critical of others when they don’t hit their numbers. All the offices compete on a national level, which is how annual bonuses are determined.

Lately, Jack’s father’s numbers are not so hot. He has missed his goal 3 months in a row and he is getting frustrated and it shows in his behavior at the office. He has a negative attitude, carries an outlook of limitations and sticks to himself while in the office.

He realizes he is acting a lot like his son by beating himself up for lack of results. Instead of being supportive when someone makes an error and forgiving them, he withholds forgiveness. He isn’t practicing that same forgiveness he needs when he makes an error. In addition, he presumes the judgment he projects on others is the same judgment being projected on him by them.

He fights this type of thinking because he strives for perfection. And everyone should want to be perfect. But no one is perfect. Expecting “perfect” results, only guarantees a life of consistent disappointment.

Forgive yourself and forget about the past. Stop living with regret. Learn the lessons and apply them to the future. That’s all you can do. Yesterday ended last night – John Maxwell.

Know that most people try to do their best and if they aren’t achieving the expectations you have of them, perhaps you are more committed than they are and you are paying the difference in frustration. Don’t let their standards and your frustration determine your beliefs and behaviors. Don’t judge them.

Lesson Learned: Forgiving ourselves starts with forgiving others. Our projection of judgment will be applied to us in time and that withheld forgiveness of others will be withheld from us. We cannot change and grow without making mistakes. No one is perfect. We are not perfect. Believe in a process of growth and improvement; and celebrate and accept each step towards a goal.


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