I was recently listening to a podcast and the closing question was “What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?”
The guest had a great answer. Did I?
I gave it a great deal of thought. So many people have done so many things for me over the course of my life. Perhaps it was all of the sacrifices my parents made. Maybe it was my in-laws allowing me to stay with them — and cooking me a late dinner — a few nights every quarter when I was working crazy hours so far from home it wasn’t worth it to drive back. Or it could be one of the many professors or bosses who saw something in me early — and were patient with me as I petulantly found my way.
Then the answer came to me. I continued to try to come up with alternatives, but my brain simply would not allow it. The nicest thing anyone has ever done for me?
They’ve forgiven me.
I have a big mouth. Or, at least I’d like to think that is behind me. I used to have a big mouth. In my teens and twenties, I was obsessed with attention, being in the center of everything, and everyone knowing who I was regardless of the reason or situation. This led to a lot of problems.
I’ve done and, especially, said a ton of things I regret. I wish I could back and change them, but I can’t. I made people feel uncomfortable. I hurt those I loved. Sometimes badly. It was rarely malicious. It was more selfish — I was getting something that I desperately needed so the feelings of others were unimportant.
Somehow, the vast majority of these people forgave me. In some cases, they forgave me multiple times. How fortunate can a person be? I’m grateful to these people that have forgiven me and have somehow decided to remain in my life, if only on the periphery.
As a husband, father, and many other things in my forties, I think I’ve learned. I’m much quieter now. I won’t just do or say anything for a laugh or to get the most amount of eyeballs on me. I’ve matured…at least a little bit.
And as I’ve aged, mellowed, been humbled by life, and been surrounded by people that are quite frankly better than I was, I’ve also realized the power of overlooking or understanding the mistakes and faux pas of others.
I’ve been forgiven countless times so the least I can do is forgive others.
It’s one of the greatest gifts that can be paid forward.
Christopher Pierznik is the worst-selling author of nine books. Check out more of his writing at Medium. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter. Please feel free to get in touch at CPierznik99@gmail.com.