Who is the hardest person to forgive? It’s probably not that politician that makes your blood boil or that person you feel betrayed you years ago. For most of us, the hardest person to forgive is ourself. This past weekend I had an opportunity to practice.
On Saturday, a dear friend and her family drove up from Naples to have dinner with me in Sarasota. Her 4-year-old son was extremely well-behaved on the drive up and at dinner, so we decided to get a treat before they headed home. Okay, maybe the adults were just looking for an excuse to get gelato. Suddenly, the skies opened up and released buckets of rain as we drove across the Ringling Bridge to St. Armands Circle where my favorite gelato shop is located. Mother Nature was not going to make our quest for dessert easy, but we were willing to persevere and wait for the storm to pass.
Eventually, the rain let up, and my friend found a parking spot in a public lot around the corner from the gelato shop. Since I already had the parking app on my phone, I said I would be happy to pay for our parking. The rain continued to fall lightly, so we huddled under her umbrella as I added her license plate to my account. I paid for an hour using the location code on the sign directly in front of her parking spot. Once it was confirmed, off we went for gelato.
By the time we finished our tasty frozen treats, the rain had all but stopped, so we took a brief stroll around the shops of St. Armands Circle. We had just arrived at a candy store when I noticed that our parking was about to expire. Rather than risk a parking ticket, I used the app to extend our time in the parking lot. That’s one of the best features of those parking apps. Having been extremely mindful to avoid a parking ticket, imagine my shock when we discovered one on the windshield when we returned to the car! How could that be? I added money to cover the extra time!
My heart sank when I looked closely at my receipt on the app. I had typed a “4” instead of a “3” when entering her license plate number. I slightly misplaced tap of my finger caused a $63 expense. I was so mad at myself for not double-checking the license plate number before I hit “Start Parking.” I did not want this unfortunate incident to spoil our fun evening so I did my best to put it out of my mind. There was nothing I could do about it now, but I would certainly try to correct my mistake later.
Before they left, I took a photo of the citation and told my friend I would take care of it since it was my mistake. As soon as I got home, I went to the parking website to file an appeal. I wish I could tell you that once I explained what happened and provided evidence with the screenshot of my receipt, they waived the ticket. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. After a few email exchanges and a phone call, I learned that the parking lot was not connected to the parking app. Even though the back of that sign was directly in front of the space where my friend parked her car, it was not associated with the parking lot. Apparently, we were supposed to pay somewhere else.
True, I could probably make a case for why the ticket should be waived and continue fighting, but is it worth it? I had already spent quite a bit of time and energy on it. My friend is also a teacher and student of A Course in Miracles, and we both agreed we would rather just pay the ticket and return to peace more quickly. If we paid it within 4 days, they would reduce the fee to $43. We agreed to split the cost, so I consider it a $21.50 lesson.
What lesson, you might ask? Well, there are a few. On a practical level, I won’t make the same mistake if I ever park in that parking lot again. However, after this experience, I don’t think I will. More importantly, I realized I was beating myself up for hitting the wrong number on my phone when even if I had typed in the correct number, we still would have received a parking ticket. All those unforgiving thoughts were a waste of time. According to the Course, that’s always true of unforgiving thoughts. I could have used that time to think loving thoughts instead, and I surely would have felt better.
Here’s something else to ponder. What if the roles were reversed and my friend had been the one who entered the wrong license plate number? Would I have said to her some of the things I was saying to myself in my mind? Certainly not! I would have been much more kind knowing it truly was not a big deal. To me, this is the most important lesson. The next time you make a mistake that feels stupid or unforgivable, can you treat yourself with as much kindness as you would treat a dear friend who made the same mistake? I’m going to do my best to remember that in the future.
If you would like some assistance in forgiving yourself, it would be my great honor to help you see things from a kinder, broader perspective with a series of Spiritual Coaching sessions or a private Family Constellations session. Both can help you release unloving thoughts and replace them with peaceful ones. Look around my website for more information and to book a session. Send me an email if you have questions or would like to schedule a 15-minute introductory Zoom call to see which type of session would be best for you.
Until next time, please be gentle with yourself…
Fear binds the world. Forgiveness sets it free.
A Course in Miracles ~ W-332