I thought I knew what forgiveness was. There have been times in my life that I have been hurt, who hasn’t? Times where I have had to let go of the hurtful words or actions that had been done. I had to realize that having peace in my heart was more important than holding onto my pain.
In my journey through life I have found that not too hard to do. I am not saying it has been easy. There have definitely been harder times than others, but overall I didn’t feel like I had much of a problem with it.
I have always been one that strives to look at the bright side of life, that wants to live in the joy of the moment. I can’t do that if burdened with holding a grudge against someone. It’s not worth the loss of inner joy.
A little over 2 years ago that all changed. I was deeply hurt. My family and I had been betrayed and the pain in my heart was overwhelming. The depths of it almost drowned me.
Suddenly I was lost in the sea of unforgiveness. I felt more anger than I have ever felt before. I felt sickened by the cold feeling that I had welling up inside my heart. The intensity of it was a new feeling to me and I didn’t like it at all. It was then that I wondered if I would ever be able to truly forgive the person for what they had done.
I knew the importance of forgiving. I had been taught it, I had encouraged others to do it. I knew that I didn’t want to become a bitter person. Having the knowledge of what I should do though is different from actually taking the steps to do it. It is hard! It was something I thought I had a grip on for one moment, but in the next moment would feel like I didn’t.
There is a saying that gets flung around all the time. “Forgive and Forget!” Forget?? I forget times of appointments and forget where I put my car keys, etc. Forgetting something major that happened to my family and I? Forgetting the pain that was caused to those I love the most? How could I? The answer was simple. I couldn’t.
I don’t believe you can forget and I don’t think you have to. There is more to that saying I believe. I believe that its not in forgetting what happened but more in what happens to us when we remember. I feel over time that as we learn to let go and forgive, that when the painful memory comes back , its not quite as sharp as it was the very first time. I believe that its the realization that even though the memory may stay with us, we no longer need to let it rule us.
It doesn’t mean that there won’t be times where the pain of the memory might hit harder than other times. Its a process. This isn’t something that happens overnight and all is well the next morning. It is about finding the strength to be able to keep making the choice to let go.
It is not about denying the pain but in accepting the peace.
Pain hit me unexpectedly this morning. A memory flashed in my mind and the tears quickly came. I thought what is happening? What is this feeling? For the memory that had flashed into my mind wasn’t of the betrayal. No, it was a memory of happier times. A memory of a friendship that had been shared for over 20 years.
The tears came because I missed the friendship of the very individual that had caused so much pain. I truly missed it. I missed the person that I thought I had known. I missed the person that I believed had cared about my family and I. I missed the good times we had shared. It was while I was thinking about those things that I realized something. I realized that I cared.
There was a warmth that had crept into my heart unexpectedly. A warmth where coldness had been before. A warmth that was poking up through the shards of a broken heart. The warmth of a forgiving heart. That realization brought more tears.
I still don’t want to see him. I don’t believe you need to see someone in order to forgive them. I don’t believe that you need to hear a “I’m sorry!” in order to forgive. In this case I still haven’t heard those words and I don’t know if I ever will. Forgiveness is not about the other person. Its not about whether they deserve it or not. How many times have I been forgiven when I didn’t deserve it?
Forgiveness isn’t about measuring the level of offense that was done. Forgiveness is about extending grace. Forgiveness is for us. Forgiveness is in the release of the coldness of bitterness and letting warmth fill our heart. It is in the releasing of the tears that roll down our cheeks.
I am not saying that I am fully there, for I am not. I am not saying that I don’t still have questions, for I do. I also still have moments of anger; but in cases like this morning I have felt the warmth of caring. The warmth that causes more tears to flow, but flowing tears is something that I will take over a cold heart any day!
Forgiveness is a Warm Heart.