I am learning about forgiveness.
About the unsexy side of inner peace and healing.
Forgiveness is a long game. There’s no instant relief or flair of happy emotions.
It’s the epitome of life’s unfairness.
A crime was committed, an offence occurred and my raw heart has called for justice and judgement.
I want a judge and jury – I want to lay out all the evidence – state my case and have some sort of authority figure let the gavel fall in my favour.
I want them to know what they did, and what it did to me.
I want to hurt them the way they hurt me – I want them to acknowledge that they were wrong.
I want some sort of emotional compensation…and the more I want it the more the anger burns in me like a bonfire.
And this is, of course, the moment when someone sagely says that I must forgive.
Forgiveness feels insane.
It feels like the opposite of justice.
If I forgive them and let it go how will they know what they did? How will they change?
Forgiveness feels like a doormat.
It feels like someone stole my lunch money and now I’m giving them my bus money too.
I’m afraid if I get a reputation for forgiveness then people will pick me as a target to take advantage of.
The deep truth is that I like my anger, my bitterness, my rage. They’re pets I keep and feed all of the injustice tidbits to.
They’re some sort of weird indemnity I’ve awarded myself with.
The way I see it is that when something hurts me it’s like a knife has been stabbed into my flesh.
The deeper the hurt, the longer the knife, and the more blood I loose.
There are two stages to forgiveness. The first is the removal of the knife – the forgiveness for the crime.
Many people stop there – and they think all is forgiven but they’re still wounded, still loosing blood.
The real healing comes in the second stage, as you forgive over and over again, as you tend to your wounds, acknowledge them, care for them, give them time to heal.
It’s a slow painful process – one many refuse – they would rather leave the knife in than undertake the path of forgiveness to correctly remove it.
I’d rather leave the knife in, to be honest. I’d rather be able to point to it and shift blame. THIS IS WHY I CAN’T (fill in the blank).
But more than that I want to be free. I want to move through life freely.
Again I find humility is the key that opens the door to forgiveness and forgiveness is the key that opens the door to healing.
Here’s hoping we’re all brave enough to turn the key in the lock and walk through the door.
[Art by Micksteeze]