Forgiveness is different for every single human being that lives it. It might come suddenly for some, while for others it takes a more deliberate process and requires a great deal of effort. For some, once it comes it is permanent and known, and for others it ebbs and flows. There is no right way to find it or live it. But staying on its path is necessary for our life in Christ.
I want to share these three additional reflections on forgiveness as noted by Rev. Nancy Colier, LCSW in a post from Psychology Today, dated March 15, 2018:
“Forgiveness is, in part, a willingness to drop the narrative on a particular injustice, to stop telling ourselves over and over again the story of what happened, what this other person did, how we were injured, and all the rest of the upsetting things we remind ourselves in relation to this unforgivable-ness. It’s a decision to let the past be what it was, to leave it as is, imperfect and not what we wish it had been. Forgiveness means that we stop the shoulda, coulda, woulda been-s and relinquish the idea that we can create a different (better) past.
Forgiveness also suggests an openness to meeting the present moment freshly. That is, to be with the other person without our feelings about the past in the way of what’s happening now. Forgiveness involves being willing and able to respond to what’s happening in the present moment and not react through the lens of anger and resentment, the residue from the past. In meeting now, freshly, we stop employing the present moment to correct, vindicate, validate, or punish the past. We show up, perhaps forever changed as a result of the past, but nonetheless with eyes, ears, and a heart that are available to right now, and what’s possible right now.
Forgiveness, ultimately, is about freedom. When we need someone else to change in order for us to be okay, we are a prisoner. In the absence of forgiveness, we’re shackled to anger and resentment, uncomfortably comfortable in our misbelief that non-forgiveness rights the wrongs of the past and keeps the other on the hook. And, that by holding onto that hook, there’s still hope that we might get the empathy we crave, and the past might somehow feel okay. When our attention is focused outward, on getting the other to give us something, so that we can feel peace, we’re effectively bleeding out not only our own power, but also our capacity for self-compassion.”
Consider these three thoughts about forgiveness and ask yourself again the challenge that we shared last weekend:
- Who do I need to forgive?
- Who do I need to forgive me?
Maybe that person is yourself. What steps will you take today to live a life of forgiveness?
To hear more about forgiveness, listen to Pastor Jon’s message from last weekend here.