By: Maura Sweeney

If you’re looking to find happiness and peace, consider gifting forgiveness!

I’ve never been a gift-giving conformist. The first and last time my husband and I exchanged traditional Christmas gifts was 1981. We purchased them in October, opened them in November and paid off credit card bills till the following April. I barely remembered what we’d exchanged.

For the record, I’ve received a few noteworthy gifts: surprise trips with my husband; chocolate truffles made by our daughter; and special invitations from friends.

I’ve happily happily gifted concert tickets to girlfriends and given engagement and baby showers to young women. Adding to my giving excitement, I’ve outfitted a few women in attire they wouldn’t think to purchase for themselves.

For me, gifts that prove precious often transcend material purchases. My favorite gift of all is the gifting of forgiveness. It works like magic, bringing peace to the giver as well as the recipient!

Here are a few examples from my life.

Childhood: When I was growing up, I despised early bedtimes. By my 9th birthday, I announced that I wanted no presents and asked for a later bedtime instead. Angry and hurt by my mother’s negative response, I decided to freeze her out. In silent retribution, I decided to limit my conversation to yes and no answers while still maintaining my home-grown manners.

My silent treatment went completely unnoticed. Within a day and a half, I felt ugly, miserable and weary.

Being angry required too much strength and ran contrary to my nature. Realizing the only one suffering was me, I gave up my offense. I chose to give my forgiveness to the situation and I returned me harmony, even with the same early bedtime.

Career: A noteworthy experience with forgiveness occurred decades later at work. I accepted a start-up position with a new company and, in deference to my previous employer, took neither staff nor clients in my transition. An uphill challenge, the assignment required enormous efforts to set a firm foundation for this new company in an already established market.

Meanwhile, challenges mounted at home. My husband and I recently moved to a new house and took on a jumbo mortgage. We were soon surprised to find that normally stable tenants from both our income properties were defaulting on their rent. Now we were covering three monthly mortgages instead of one. Next, my husband’s income dropped when his largest client took its growing business direct.

The moment when things really hit the fan soon arrived at my office. While still struggling to build our operation, I learned that a large contract I’d negotiated turned sour. The client had completely misrepresented his business: his account produced a trickle instead of its anticipated roar.

Phoning the client for an explanation, I was informed he’d be out of town for a week.

I saw red. My fears reached a crescendo and focused on a single individual: the blond haired, 30-something client who coaxed me into special pricing he didn’t deserve.

Already stressed, I allowed his misrepresentation to turn me to panic. I imagined the business reputation I’d worked years to achieve vanishing into thin air. How dare this guy take away my good name?

By Saturday morning, I stood alone in my shower as water pelted over my exhausted frame. Drowning in a blackened world and completely unable to see light, I uttered a quiet prayer of desperation.

Words arose from a deep abyss in response: This will kill you. He’s not even aware.

Shocking my senses, the words brought welcome enlightenment. My unforgiving state of mind was metaphorically killing my soul. I could see that my client didn’t know this and likely didn’t care.

Immediately, I dropped my offense, forgiving my client and myself.

Stepping from the shower, the heaviness began to lift. A small smile returned to my face.

My outer circumstances hadn’t changed but the gift of forgiveness was allowing me to emerge from insanity. I could return to work a less fearful manager, administrator and wife.

Friendship: I’m reminded of a final story from years ago involving a precious female friend.

Struggling with unresolved anger against her mother and deep embarrassment over her husband’s errant behavior, this otherwise beautiful woman found herself confronting hidden fears that were long denied. In the midst of her conflict, I became an unintended – if not safe – target for her anger. Unable to see through her own pain, she remained blindly bound to her fears and equally chained to this offense.

One night, I had an extraordinary dream. In it, I saw the woman whose fear kept her from remembering who she was. Emblazoned across a piece of gold, three striking words appeared that would remind her of a lost identity.

Months later, this burdened woman received an anonymous gift. Inside a velvet jeweler’s box was a special 14-carat gold wedding band. It was inscribed with the same words I’d seen in the dream: beautiful, perfect *and pure.*

This magical opportunity to gift forgiveness produced pure joy for me. My sense is that it would bring similar joy and peace for the recipient of the gift.

Who is really gifting the forgiveness?

Whether we’re doing the forgiving – or gifting forgiveness to others – is sometimes hard to tell. But in either case, gifting forgiveness is quite the miracle. Gifting forgiveness with no strings attached prepares a path for peace, happiness and rest for our souls.

If you’re experiencing an offense or merely observing one, here’s hoping you won’t wait for a holiday.

Extend the marvelous gift of forgiveness any day of the year!

Maura Sweeney is an Author, Podcaster, Blogger and Speaker.

Her mantra is “Living Happy – Inside Out” and she can be found at Maura4u.com

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