We all may agree that forgiveness is needed in our lives. It is a spiritual prerogative. It is also a social, emotional and psychological imperative. But, it is one of the hardest things to do within our own heart and mind.
There are so many factors that are involved with forgiving. There are so many facets of our own psyche that are attached to the circumstances and actions in which we are called to forgive about. So, of course, it is going to be a difficult challenge, especially if the different parts of us – within us – are struggling against the other parts of us that are within us.
Books and more are written about forgiveness. There are countless articles and treatises that are written about forgiveness. The Bible is filled with the calling to forgive, and so we try.
Forgiveness isn’t always a “freeing” experience, like some say. It isn’t always a wonderful experience. This is because we are multi-dimensional and multi-faceted individual souls. There’s a lot going on inside us – in our minds, in our hearts, in our hopes for life, in our dreams, in our motivations, in everything about us.
Forgiveness is, in fact, an act of letting go. But, there is sometimes great grief in this act. Why grief? Because there is a death occurring. It isn’t a death of a person, but rather the death of a dream and image of something – giving way to the reality of something.
More often, it is the death of who we think a person is, and who we want that person to be, as well as what we think our relationship to the person is, and what we want our relationship to be. Forgiveness brings us to a realization that the person and our relationship aren’t what we had imagined, thought, believed, hoped, dreamt it all to be.
It is with forgiveness that we come to realize that the person is slightly or greatly different than we had projected onto them. The death of that “imagined person” comes through the act of forgiveness. Who we wanted to believe that person or persons were comes to an end (or partially). There is sometimes great grief that comes with this realization.
This all brings us to the point that we can let that other person become a human being instead of being an imaginary person whom we projected onto.
In our hearts, it is easier to like and love someone who we don’t know that well as a human being. It is easy to project onto that person. In our hearts, it is more painful to love an actual human being who is capable of hurting others – someone who we learn about in a deeper way – someone who demonstrates their ability and willingness to disregard and hurt others.
Forgiveness is an act of growth for us when we forgive. We open up our mind to see a real person – a real live human being who has thousands of qualities – both good and bad – and not some idealized image of a person whom we only were willing to see either the good or the bad – without the other.
When we put someone on a pedestal, we don’t see the reality of who they are. We don’t see them as human beings with all their faults. We only see an image – a false human being – an unreal human being. That is why it is then so easy to crucify them.
When we forgive, we let them get off the pedestal and become a soul who is trying to learn how to be a human being – regardless of whether they’re successful or not – regardless of whether or not we’re aware of whether they’re trying – regardless of whether they are even trying or not.
When we forgive, we change ourselves into a human being who sees another human being – instead of an image of that human being. When we forgive, we allow the relationship to be what it is, rather than what we want it to be – leaving us in a better place to decide whether it is a relationship we wish to continue and bring forth a different love or discontinue because of the need to remove ourselves from a bad relationship.
The reason why Christ can love us without reservation is because He forgives us over and over. Forgiveness doesn’t make the relationship better not even how we relate to Jesus, but it does create an open door for our inner change to happen. If we’re willing to walk through the open door for change, then the relationship can get better, but not everyone who is forgiven is willing to walk through the open door for change.
That is why forgiveness can also bring grief. Forgiveness can also bring the reality of a destructive relationship which needs to come to an end. We can forgive ***and forget*** but it comes with change. Sometimes that change is to love more. Sometimes that change is to move on.
The challenge of many of the Jews and others who were alive after WWII was to forgive the Nazis. The awareness was present for many that only in the forgiving of them did the prisoners become free from the Nazis. If there was no forgiveness, the two were still tied together.
Forgiveness doesn’t make everything peachy-keen. Again, it brings a view of the reality of what the relationship is and what the relationship isn’t. It helps us to see when we have been holding onto someone wanting them to be someone they aren’t. It helps us to see when we’ve been holding onto a relationship wanting it to be something it isn’t. And with this awareness, perhaps be able then to choose a better action on our parts other than idealizing someone or some part of someone, and idealizing the relationship or some part of the relationship.
Finally, mercy is always available to help us to forgive. Remember, each of us has been forgiven many, many, many times and by many, many, many people – including by Christ, Himself. And we’ll never know the full spectrum and all of the quantity of the times we’ve been forgiven. As long as we are alive as human beings, we will never know. We can only know that we’ve been forgiven countless times, but for the rare occasions that we may learn a few of the details of when and why.
We can then participate in our forgiving of others without holding onto expectations – just letting the act of forgiveness itself be a hidden act of mercy, and then moving on with our life.
Forgiveness is also the act of taking our own heart in our own loving arms, holding our self close with kindness, forgiveness and love. ©, 2016, Jodie Senkyrik
“Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I can’t take God’s place.” ” Genesis 50:19