A few weeks ago, I spent the weekend in Salt Lake City for an essential oils convention, and I had the honor of hearing Immaculee Ilibagiza speak about her life, and her experience surviving Rwanda's genocide.
The folks in the BeYou program have heard this story, but it has moved me in so many ways that I want to share with all of you. I had zero expectations for her talk, and I was admittedly a bit surprised as her story was very centered on her faith in God.
(I'm not going to get into religion in this email. Please stay with me till the end!)
After meeting one of the men that killed her entire family (yeah, pause and read that phrase one more time and let it sink in), she was able to say to his face that she forgave him.
And I sat there listening, thinking "What the?" How could she do that? I'm someone who talks to my students a lot about these high level concepts — let go. Be free. Forgive. Be you. But until we (as teachers) get the words right, or speak the "language" of our individual practitioners, the cues may not land. I think about that a lot when I hear people speak. When I get really inspired/moved/weepy, it's a tangible reaction that tells me the speaker got their cues right.
Well I wanted to share with you her cue that landed. The one that really hit home for me on forgiveness. She cited the Bible. And regardless of your belief system or feelings about any Bible, I think we can all appreciate the words... which is exactly what I reference when I teach a class about the Hindi gods and goddesses... take the story for what it is. If it doesn't resonate, let it go.
The verse was, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."
I've heard this sentence a million times growing up, but the way she explained it sounded so reasonable. And when you're listening to someone who spent over 90 days in a tiny 3'5' bathroom in Rwanda with eight other women, knowing that at any moment they could be found and killed — and also knowing their entire families were already dead... somehow the words stick a little more.
She said, "It wasn't the first part. Because 'Forgive them?', I have no idea how to do that. That's what I'm trying to figure out, and I was just so angry."
She went on, "It was the second part that I could feel in my heart. 'They know not what they do.'"
She explained how it resonated with her so deeply, this idea of people — people with love in their hearts — there's no way they could knowingly kill men, women, children, neighbors... unless they didn't truly understand what they were doing. And sure enough, when people — even those with love in their hearts — are commanded by the government to go out and kill, then they might just do what they're told.
They know not what they do.
So if you're anything like me, and that lands just a little bit in your heart, perhaps you can take that out into your world today. Its a heavy concept. One that might not land with you. But for me? When I get frustrated, or hurt in my life — big or small, my hope is to come back to this idea. To recognize that however hurtful something is — through words, texts, emails, any mode of communication — on some level, I can work toward forgiveness because if they knew the level of hurt I'm experiencing, there's no way they truly know what they're doing.
Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Mollie is a cheesehead transplant to Northwest Montana, with degrees in Retail and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, she lives off the grid, half the year in a Tiny House & half the year in a yurt — both of which she and her husband, Sean, built by hand. Nonprofit Executive Director by day, Mollie also owns and teaches at Yoga Hive — a chain of community yoga studios in the valley.