Our family has never really been into playing board games. I have my theories on this – something having to do with excessive competitiveness, but that’s probably a discussion for another time. For me, whenever we did play a game it had to be one that had an end. I dreaded Monopoly because it seemed to go on forever. Constantly circulating the board, rotating money, revolving in and out of jail, drawing a card and who knows, because you never arrive. And when competitiveness is in the family DNA, saying ‘that’s enough’ is not an option. So on and on it goes, until eventually long after the last bit of fun has been had, a winner can be declared. Then, and only then, can we go on with our lives.
Maybe because of my general disdain for Monopoly, I’ve often thought that it’s a lot like holding someone in unforgiveness. It just goes on and on. Sometimes you feel ahead because that person owes you and unforgiveness seems to be sufficient punishment. But then sometimes you feel behind because the offense was so bad, unforgiveness doesn’t seems like it’s nearly enough. And so it teeters back and forth in an endless game of trying to keep months, years, maybe even generations of scores because there has to be a winner, right?
One of the most traumatic experiences of my teenage life was when I was falsely accused and called names by someone I deeply loved and trusted. As my dad tried to console me, I remember telling him that I would never forgive that person. He calmly said, ‘someday you will.’ And, you know, he was right. The day came when I grew tired of being angry, tired of keeping score, tired of reminding myself of the hurt because I wanted to keep it fresh and raw in my mind, tired of hoping that they suffered because I stopped talking to or visiting them. I grew tired of that game and I forgave. The relationship was never really restored and I never did forget what happened. But, at the point I forgave, the edges of the offense began to soften, the depths of the betrayal began to release its grip on me and I was able to move onto something fun – my life.
So, maybe the real winner is the one who says I’m not playing anymore. That’s enough. I’m tired of trying to get on top and stay there in an endless, fun-less game of keeping score. Maybe the real winner is the one who gets to move on.
I’ve come to believe that forgiveness is the ‘F’ word to all that is dark in this world. It’s a reminder to evil that it’s victory is just a mirage. When you forgive, you get to turn your back on what is evil and move onto a better future.
To all the lovers of Monopoly, please forgive my illustration. But, if you have time, how about we play a game of Life?