On Forgiveness

15 Aug

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In forgiveness we are forced to live in a place of tension where our knowledge of pain parallels our efforts towards forgiveness. And this tension can make our souls feel like a taut rubber band. Like trying to remove a tumor with radiation, it can take many tries until we are in remission and sometimes the tumor slowly grows back and then we need more treatments. If we haven’t allowed ourselves to feel intense feelings associated with betrayal, this can be like pulling a weed from the top instead of getting down to its roots. Because we never removed the source, subtle resentment can creep back in, which does not reflect true forgiveness.

In order for forgiveness to transpire, there has to be an opening of sorts in the places where our hearts are most defended. What allows this to happen can be deeply mysterious. The paths towards forgiveness vary like streams finding their way to a river or ocean. Often, a catalyst occurs that begins to shift our stance of emotional immobility. Sometimes the trigger results from a sudden catharsis that frees our hearts from hatred, as if a blast of dynamite exploded within the muscle, making more space for forgiveness. Or, sometimes the love of someone who sees us deeply redeems our faith in humanity, giving us hope. In other circumstances, we may forgive over time like when the sun begins to melt the winter snow, or when after holding onto something super tight, we suddenly let go and relax a little. All of these examples bear an aspect of grace, in which a Divine force is slowly helping us to love again despite it all. We may be deeply weathered by what other people have done to us the same way that wood can be beaten up by nature. But driftwood does not resist; it allows itself to be smoothed out in the process, ever more refined.

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