The Dilemma of Forgiveness
I was raised to “have” a forgiving heart. At a very young age, I learned that we must forgive “not 7 times, but 70 times 7″… that’s 490 times! However, each time I feel wronged, I don’t naturally and automatically overflow with mercy, grace and forgiveness.
I think of times I felt anger or pain. I felt offended or disrespected. I felt wounded and hurt. At times I blamed them, at times I blamed myself…either way, I felt like a victim.
Reading about Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian woman who survived a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust, gave me some perspective:
“Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize the prisoner was you.”
Ahhh the sweet reward of our forgiveness—freedom. Sounded great and I definitely wanted some.
stubborn determined as I am, I’ve decided to quickly move on. “It’s a thing of the past” I’ve said. “I am going to close this chapter of my life. I’m done. It’s over!“… Or is it?
I’ve learned the hard way it is not. Healing takes time and it takes acknowledgement. We can’t heal from a pain we decided we magically don’t have anymore.
Even though I had evolved past an unwillingness to forgive (sometimes even an unwillingness to be willing), I had to realize that forgiving is a process, and all processes have basic steps that must be followed.
Recently, I have been faced with the truth — and the truth has set me free! I found out that my “I already forgave” really meant “I don’t have to feel the anger or the pain, I don’t have to experience the trauma, I don’t have to relive the betrayal, I don’t have to deal with it!” Being forced to confront the culprit, some feelings resurface and suddenly, I realized I skipped important stages toward recovery.
After being up all night and some heavy tears, I went to a friend and sister in faith…that is when I discovered “the layers of forgiveness”, which is what she calls this lifelong process of healing ourselves. The lesson I learned: forgiveness isn’t a shortcut to emotional healing.
Obviously, the dilemma is not whether we must forgive or not. The issue is to NOT forgive prematurely, but genuinely. I now realize that forgiveness isn’t forgetting, it’s a conscious choice to remember what a person did (or didn’t do) and change its meaning to a story of empowerment and renewal to the parties involved. What do you think?
Guiding YOUR Path to Success,
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