Today I am grateful for my past. It has brought me to this day, with these values, this understanding, and all these drives… It has made me who I am.

Without everything in my past, I would not realize this day that I need to really forgive my bigot neighbor. I would hold onto this low-level resentment and either deny it exists or justify it. Allowing someone else to exist near me, without abusing them in some way, is not forgiveness. Forgiveness, to me, means not allowing someone else’s behavior to effect my treatment of them. 

I was being helpful at first, to stay true to me, but I slowly allowed my bigoted neighbor to drift away. It was easier than summoning the strength to push through my hurt and anger. Now we pass each other without a word or a glance.

There is an anxiety building inside me daily to alert me that I am not being the person I want to be. That alarm wouldn’t be going off if I hadn’t learned everything that life has brought me to learn, or experienced being that unwanted person at some point in my past. I am grateful for all my experiences, good and bad, that create in me a desire to do good to the ‘bad’ today.

When I see my bigoted neighbor, whom I will now refer to simply as ‘neighbor’, I will ask him how things are going, what’s new, and offer him a coffee. I will invite him into my home, and play host as I enjoy doing with everyone else. I will treat him as friend, like I’d want to be treated despite what other people saw as flaws in me.