Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Forgiveness and Sunsets

I love watching the sunrise in the morning and the sunset at night. There is just something reassuring about the consistency with which the sun moves across our sky during the day.

Yes, yes, I know, it is actually the earth spinning on its axis that gives us sunrises and sunsets. That knowledge may make it even better. To think that there is something so dependable that it is always there. Always waiting. Always ready for me to come back around.

In my life I have witnessed a handful of sunsets that were remarkable. Sunsets that actually made me cry a little, and even applaud because they were just that beautiful.

None was more breathtaking than watching the sunset over the Grand Canyon. I was there several years ago. Someone at our hotel had insisted that we needed to be on the south rim of the canyon at sunset. “Get there early, it can get pretty full sometimes.”

So we did. We arrived a good while early. We sat and waited, talking about how the journey had gone so far. Looking forward to the next leg of our adventure.

Then it began. As the bright orange orb began to settle toward the horizon, the already spectacular colors of the canyon became even more pronounced. The sun appeared to be setting just beyond the canyon’s opposite ridge. It’s movement became visible as it found its resting place.

A crowd had gathered. The chatter that had been present moments before disappeared. We all watched in silent reverence as the last tiny sliver of the sun settled over the horizon.

Then it happened. Applause. Gasps. Tears. All of us knew that we had experienced something special. We would never be the same. We had caught a glimpse of the majesty of creation. Something very special had been made of something so ordinary. The routine had become the exceptional.

How did this happen? The cynic in me looks back and is tempted to think that my memory is playing tricks on me. After all, in my 56 years here on Earth, I’ve lived through over 20,700 sunsets. Could that one have really been so different? So special?

I answer my inner cynic with a simple “yes.” That sunset was special. Special because of where I was. Special because I had made the journey to the canyon’s south rim as suggested. Special because I waited for it. Special because I was truly present in the moment.

As I have been writing about this memory, my heart has once again been filled with those emotions I felt that evening on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I think about Shaun and Amanda, and want them to experience that majestic sunset. Shoot, I wish everyone could experience it. It’s truly that special.

It’s easy to lose sight of that sunset, and others like it that have been made special because of my being present for them. I could take them for granted if I didn’t occasionally take time to reflect on just how wonderful they were.

Forgiveness can be like sunsets. Easily taken for granted. Easily forgotten. Sometimes, even expected. I find myself feeling entitled to forgiveness.

That sense of entitlement toward forgiveness is a dangerous thing. Not only does it pervert the whole concept of forgiveness, it also diminishes forgiveness that I do receive. In fact, it can steal the joy that comes from having been forgiven for so much.

The sun still sets on cloudy days. Just because a day is cloudy doesn’t mean my memory of past sunsets is diminished. No, cloudy days serve to boost my appreciation for those spectacular sunsets.

So it is with forgiveness. If there are those from my past who cannot forgive, then I can take greater joy from those who choose to forgive. As with that evening on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, it is my presence that makes the difference.

I needed this reminder about forgiveness this morning. Lately, I’ve found myself sinking into a funk over someone who not only seems unable to forgive my past, but seems determined to exploit it in an effort to disrupt my present and future joy.

The situation is definitely like a sunset on a cloudy day. It has brought only a slow and steady darkness into my life. I’ve become so engulfed in that darkness that I’ve forgotten the beauty of the forgiveness I have received.

So today, I choose to be present. I choose to find joy in the forgiveness I have received. I will focus on the people in my life who make each new day an adventure. They believe in me, so I will believe in me.

I will also be present to experience forgiveness from my Higher Power, God. He has brought me through so much. He has delivered me from the pit of drug abuse. I have found new life in that forgiveness. Who am I to squander it?

The message of Narcotics Anonymous is that an addict, an addict, can stop using drugs, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live. This new way of life is every bit as beautiful as the sunset over the Grand Canyon. Today, I choose to be present for it.

Have a remarkable day!


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