We have come to a new year. Let us gently move forward one year from now to January 1, 2017. Let us do a mental exercise and pretend that 2016 is now over—gone forever. What you have said and done has now gone out to others for good or for ill. Regrets? Guilt? Remorse? These could be part of the package as you reflect back on 2016 on the first day of 2017. How have you lived in 2016? What could you have done to make the world a more loving place?
Back to present-day January, 2016…now is your chance to open the door of opportunity to this New Year. An opportunity to fulfill your January 1st, 2017 hopes and dreams that you just reflected on—to make them whole, peaceful, joyous and a reality. Despite the unforeseen trials and hardships, regardless of others’ injustices and unfairness, you have the power to make the year 2016 a triumph of love worth remembering and celebrating next January 1st of 2017.
You are not the master of your fate in that you can prevent the unwanted. You, however, do have a strong influence on all of this if you make a commitment with me now to love. 2016 will be the year that you grow in love, give love to others, give love to those whom you do not think necessarily deserve it. The kind of love connected to forgiveness is that which serves–out of concern for the other. You have within you now the capacity to give this love freely, without cost, without anyone earning it. Go ahead, try it. Give love away as your legacy of 2016.
How can you start? I recommend starting by looking back at one incident of 2015. Please think of one incident with one person in which you were loved unconditionally, perhaps even surprised by a partner or a parent or a caring colleague. Think of your reaction when you felt love coming from the other and you felt love in your heart and the other saw it in your eyes. What was said? How were you affirmed for whom you are, not necessarily for something you did? What was the other’s heart like, and yours?
This kind of love will not necessarily be a two-way street in 2016. You may have to extend the love through forgiveness, a hard but joyous road. Forgiveness is part of your unfolding love story. Forgiveness, which serves the other through compassion and gentleness, is not always reciprocated. Yet, one thing is certain: When others reflect upon 2016 in early January, 2017, they will remember your kindness, your unconditional love, your forgiveness. They will see who you really are. And as for you? Well, you will have added a chapter to your unfolding love story. How do you think that will feel?Welcome to 2016. The International Forgiveness Institute is here to support you as you add a new chapter to your book of life.