I don’t REALLY know much about forgiveness. I understand how Webster’s dictionary defines it, “to cease to feel resentment against an offender.” For me, practicing forgiveness is something like looking at abstract art. I stare at the painting for hours, contemplate it in my mind, balancing intellectual and emotional, but never truly realize the essence of what it is conveyed.
To live forgiveness, to include it my everyday life is something I’ve reflected upon, understanding why it is important, this idea of letting resentment go, but it is just that, an abstract concept I view as something that is unattainable. My ambivalence toward forgiveness becomes more frustrating when I hear of a mother forgiving her child’s murderer or Nelson Mandela’s ability to forgive his captors after years of imprisonment. To confess, I’ve never experienced the gravity of these kind of wrongs. But I am captivated and astounded as to how people can forgive, even when they are not expected to express a sliver of kindness against the offender. How do they do it? How CAN they do it?
I come to the same conclusion. I really don’t understand forgiveness. In my own life, there are instances, when conflicts left me angry and hurt, but looking for a pathway into forgiveness wasn’t my first or final thought. I buried myself in the exact opposite emotion. The hurt would tumble in my mind, resulting in tears and resentment. Questions of why’s and how’s and all the what if’s abound, but I am unable to look to a solution, I sift through all the components of my hurt.
Ultimately, intellectually I realize this thinking is fruitless. The negative feelings eventually build and although it is a very repeated cliche, forgiveness is the only true way to experience release of hurt. By talking about it in this space, part of me wants to announce my fear, that I don’t want to come to forgiveness when it is too late. It is something I’d like to embrace right now, but again, how to do so challenges me.
I know there is a direct relationship between forgiveness and letting go. Until forgiveness is something that is as vital to me as breathing, I will be unable to let go. And I know to seek a way of peace it is crucial to let go. But it is more complicated than that. I believe you must forgive yourself first, for all of your inconsistencies, mistakes, insecurities, knowing that you are not perfect, and others are just as malleable and human as you.
Do you practice forgiveness? What is your relationship with forgiveness? Is forgiveness attainable? Why or why not? Are your ideas of forgiveness connected with your faith?
Image by Juliejordanscott