I remember it was about 12 years ago, when I was working at the ad agency, that I had come to crossroads with a situation that tested my ability to forgive another person for a wrong doing. I had been working on a concept for a full-page advertisement, which was designed for a number of women’s magazines that commonly appear in the magazine racks just above the check-out counters at grocery stores.
Normally, when I would leave my desk for any length of time, I would put all of my paperwork in a manila file and then place it in the file drawer of my desk. One day, I made the mistake of leaving all of my paperwork on my desk when I went to lunch.
Well, when I came back from lunch, it was very obvious to me that someone had gone through the papers that had been neatly arranged on my desk. I had been working on a prospective advertisement for a soft drink. My rough drawings were of an old fashioned gas station, with an older man, a middle aged man, and a young boy sitting on a bench outside the gas station. They were all looking very happy and drinking the client’s soft drink. I was working on the copy for the ad when I left for lunch.
I continued to work on my ad layout, but had gotten interrupted that day when my boss asked me to work on something else of a higher priority. I remember it was mid-week when all of this happened, I am pretty sure it was on a Wednesday.
At any rate, every Friday morning, the ad agency would have a company-wide meeting in the big conference room. One of the items on the agenda was the magazine ad campaign, designed for the women’s magazines, for the soft drink company that the ad agency had a contract with.
You could imagine my surprise when the president of the ad agency uncovered the first phase of a prospective concept of an ad layout for the soft drink company, and I was looking at the very idea that I thought up. During his introduction of the prospective ad layout, the president thanked Mary for coming up with such a wonderful idea. In a nutshell, Mary had taken all my paperwork, photocopied it while I was at lunch, and then quickly ran it into the art department for them to work on it, and then she submitted it to the president of the ad agency.
Of course Mary knew I knew what she had done. But, it did not seem to bother her at all. All day long it ate at me. But, there was little I could do about it. Mary was the niece of the president of the ad agency. Needless to say, it would have been less than wise to make a complaint that Mary had stolen my idea.
As I drove down Route 287, on my way home from work that night, I found myself talking to myself and getting madder and madder at Mary for having stole my ad layout concept. When I reached Route 202 in Montville, I had to pull over to the parking lot of a shopping center. I knew if I was to have any inner peace during the weekend that I had to come to terms with the wrong that had been done to me. In short, I needed to forgive Mary.
I’m not saying it was easy to forgive Mary, not at all. But, right then and there in that shopping center parking lot, I prayed and in my prayer told the good Lord that I forgave Mary. It was like a big, heavy weight was lifted from my heart.
No, it’s not always easy to forgive people who do wrong to us. But here’s the bottom line, holding a grudge will eat away at us with a vengeance. It will rob of us our peace of mind. It will make it tough to fall asleep at night. And, when we’re alone, we’ll find ourselves talking to ourselves about the wrong that was done to us.
Whatever religion or spiritual path you are walking, I am sure that somewhere in your belief system, there are writings that emphasize the importance of forgiving others who have done wrong to us. No, it isn’t easy to forgive others who have done wrong to us. But, when we do find the inner strength to forgive someone, we’ll feel the relief of the deeply held grudge. As a result, we’ll sleep better, have greater peace of mind, and find we aren’t carrying around a quart of acid in our stomachs.
Till tomorrow, Richard