I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the last few years. Some have been amazing and some I could have done without. But what I have learned more about than I ever realized I would (or really wished I would) has been forgiveness.
It’s a simple word, but it’s a remarkably complicated concept. It’s a choice; sometimes it becomes a feeling; it’s often not final. Sometimes it’s something we have to wake up day after day after day and keep on working on.
One thing I never knew was that forgiveness doesn’t take way anger, but it does require us to attempt to mitigate it. After all, anger is fuel for an unforgiving flame. If we let the anger burn, it’s hard to embrace the forgiveness.
Like I said, it’s complicated.
But as complicated as it is, it is also freeing. After all, when we refuse to offer forgiveness, we remain tied to the transgressions and the transgressor and all that makes life dark and dirty and mean.
Forgiveness isn’t hard, but it’s really the only way to freedom.
I’ve learned some of these lessons from people who have hurt me and who I have had to learn to forgive. But I learned a lot more from people who refused to forgive me. From people who believe that anger is dignified. Who believe pride is security. And who believe that love is conditional.
I wish I never learned those lessons. I wish I never had the opportunity to witness anger consume character the way cancer can consume an organ. I wish I never saw just how deep the lines of bitterness can show on a face, hardening the edges, dulling the eyes, and callousing the soul.
It’s frustrating to live in a world with people who keep you at arms length. People who don’t forgive you and don’t accept you but won’t reject you either. But it’s also incredibly educational.
I didn’t learn the dangers of harboring an unforgiving soul by withholding forgiveness. I learned the dangers by watching others withhold it. I learned it by watching others choose pride over love and choose ego over peace. And I learned that those choices impact every single ounce of our beings.
It can be hard to act in a loving manner. After all, people suck sometimes. But one day we will find ourselves sitting in a rocker after decades of living. We will look around. And I believe what we find will be a direct result of one choice we make day after day, year after year…
When we were trespassed against, did we forgive?
I can’t help but think that one choice will lead us to peace, love, wisdom, and open, loving arms. And the other will leave us with a dark wall and a mirror reflecting ourselves back to ourselves. Because if we choose our anger over our love, eventually the only one who will be willing to look at us is ourselves.
That’s cold and that’s harsh, but it’s the choice we are given.
The old saying goes, “To err is human; to forgive is divine.” I don’t believe that. Yes, erring is part of being human, but so is learning to forgive. We can’t do it on our own. We need prayer and assistance. But it is us who must ask for it. It is us who must continue to seek out some path to forgiveness. It is us who must wake up day after day after day and keep on trying.
Even when I forgive, I falter. My forgiveness doesn’t always hold. Constantly I have to remind myself of my choice and recommit myself to my forgiveness. I hope one day it gets easier. I pray one day I get better at it. But I know that as long as I walk this Earth, it is an end I will continue to seek.
Because I don’t want to be eighty years old one day, sitting in a rocker, staring at myself and the dull eyes my decisions have purchased for me.
I want to look out and see love looking back at me.