Beyond Forgiveness

What comes after you forgive someone?  Does the pain go away, for you, for them?  Do you stop being angry?  I’ve heard that until you forgive someone, really truly forgive them, you cannot move forward.  Do you think that is true?  It seems I’ve known plenty of people who have held a grudge and seemingly moved on with their life never looking back.  Maybe it just takes a special kind of person to do that; one that is able to suppress feelings of loss or regret.  Me, I stand knee-deep in my stationary position and no matter how hard I try to pull my foot up from the  muck and take a step forward, I cannot.  I’m stuck. It’s as if my anger becomes and endless pit of quick sand and the harder I try to pull myself out of it the more I sink.  And so it seems that if I want to be free of the prison I’ve created for myself I must find a way to forgive those who have trespassed against me.  It seems much easier when you are reciting it in the Lord’s Prayer but actually applying it takes much more skill and determination. 

I sent another email to my brother not because I feel guilty but because somehow I need to forgive him, for real.  One thing I’m learning, slowly, is that forgiving someone is a process.   You don’t just blink your eyes, tap your heels together three times and then magically become free.  First comes the desire to forgive, not for them but for you.  Desire to be a bigger person, a stronger more agile human being capable of stretching yourself beyond its normal capabilities.  After the stretching comes courage; courage to put yourself out there with the risk that your forgiveness will not be accepted.  Do we think about that part, the forgiveness not being accepted?  I don’t think we do because we just assume that everyone wants to be forgiven when in reality they don’t.  We have to remember that accepting someone’s forgiveness also means admitting we did something that needed to be forgiven.  Some people cannot accept their accountability.  So once we’re there, at that place where we desire to forgive and we’re brave enough to give it what comes next?  I’m in that stage now and it’s kind of a catch 22 because if I forgive someone and they don’t accept it will I take the forgiveness back?  I’m trying not to but in all honesty I”m waivering.  We all want to believe we’re strong enough to do the right thing but sometimes we just aren’t.   And so the last stage of forgiveness must be the willingness to accept the outcome no matter what it may be.  Forgiveness does not guarantee a happy ending but if the forgiveness is genuine it does guarantee that the quick sand you’ve been treading will become solid ground from which you can use as a bridge to tomorrow.

Dear brother I will forgive you …soon.

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