My Simplicity Journey: Forgiving Ourselves and Others

Article by Malcolm Marler, Edited by Dee DeWitt


Some of you know that I accepted a new job about five months ago.  It’s kept me busier than I have been since I was in my 20’s. And if that’s not enough, I accepted more duties within this same timetable in a “moonlighting second job” that I have had been doing for several years. 


This doesn’t sound like simplifying my life!


I am over-committed, over-promised, and overwhelmed.  Have you been there?  Do you know what this feels like?


When I asked my wife, Mary, if I have been like this during our whole marriage, she answered truthfully, “No, you’ve had pretty good boundaries between work and home until you started your new job, and it’s been different since then.”  And she was right.


I’m learning that living more simply is not about committing to do more, trying harder, or making more promises to “do better.”  Too many promises makes life complicated, not simpler.  And so I will get out my calendar tomorrow, take a hard look at my commitments in coming weeks, and start saying I’m sorry but I won’t be able to do this or that commitment.  Deep breath.  Maybe it’s time to offer grace to myself.


Sometimes to live more simply means to forgive yourself, and to let go of promises that are impossible to keep.


Yet forgiving ourselves is only half the challenge …


When we withhold forgiveness from another, we are the ones who are gravely injured.  When we live in such a self-imposed jail, we shackle our feet and bind our hands, and give ourselves what is equal to life without parole.


What kind of prison are you living in? Resentment, regrets, or getting even?  In order to live more simply, we can choose to forgive.


Sometimes it is best we tell another that s/he is forgiven.  At other times it is best to demonstrate the forgiveness, and no words are needed.  Or we can simply write a letter, and then tear it up as a sign we are moving on.


We don’t have to wait for anyone else to say or do anything in order for us to forgive them.  We are free to forgive.


Go ahead forgive.  Forgiving another will simplify your life and will set you free.


Peace to you along the journey.



“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”

-Lewis Smedes


Malcolm Marler is Director of Pastoral Care for UAB Hospital in Birmingham, AL.  In addition to his interest in spirituality and health, he loves to identify physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of persons, then design and build programs that help meet those needs.  His warmth and humor along with his powerful message of hope and grace is his greatest strength.  Malcolm grew up in Alabama and attended Clemson University (S.C.) on a football scholarship as a defensive back where he graduated with a B.A. degree in Psychology.  He is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY with Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees.  Malcolm lives on a lake in North Alabama with the love of his life, Mary Bea Sullivan.  He has two open-hearted, loving stepchildren, Brendan and Kiki who are both freshman in college.  For more information or to contact Malcolm, please visit


If you liked this article, please share it on, StumbleUpon or Digg. Thanks!

Posted on 12 March, 2010 in Happiness, Simplify
Digg  |  |   Stumble    

No Responses so far | Have Your Say!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Search Site