Sunday, July 13, 2008

What is forgiveness?

Something brought this to mind recently and I decided to look it up and republish it. This was written in response to someone who was hurting and asked, "What is forgiveness?" I still think it's as true as anything I've ever written and worth repeating from time to time.

Have you ever heard someone talking about "forgiving a debt?" A lender who forgives a debt does not require repayment. If they're still lending to that borrower, they stop. They don't deny that the money was borrowed. They simply do not enforce their right to repayment.

I think that defines forgiveness pretty well. When we've been hurt, abused, molested, neglected, accused unjustly...all the painful, damaging things that hurt so bad, it's like the abusers are taking bits of us. In many cases we actually participate in the process in one way or another, though rarely do we recognize it at the time. We become lenders and borrowers and, in essence, a huge debt is created. Even after we're removed from the situation and no longer being abused, molested, etc., we're left with this aching place, a painful, raw emotional wound, because the debt that was created isn't paid. Sometimes all it would really take is a heartfelt apology. Sometimes the debt is bigger than an apology can cover. But until we get something that feels like repayment, we're left with the debt and the misery that goes with it.

That's where forgiveness comes in. We can choose to forgive the debt. We're not saying "it's okay" because you're right - it will never be ok. We're not denying that it happened, that it was wrong, that it was horrible and it sucked and it carved out part of our life when it was happening. Instead, we can recognize that, as horrible as the abuse was, it's no more horrible than the pain and misery of carrying the anger and the resentment and the feeling of unresolved debt around with us, eating away at what should be growing healthy again. If we're still in the situation - the relationship, the circumstances - we have to get out, just like that lender has to stop lending money to the borrower who won't or can't repay. And then we make a deal with ourselves - NOT with our abusers. The deal is this: I will move forward today, right now, with this person out of my life forever. I forgive the debt I am owed by them, knowing that the Universe will hold them accountable without my help. For me, I sever those ties, cut my losses, and walk away from that life for good.

That, in my opinion, is forgiveness. And with time and intent, if we're truly blessed, we may be able to move from forgiveness to compassion, wherein we realize that even people who hurt us are people who've taken some seriously wrong turns and are lost, probably without realizing it. That's when you know you're truly free. And forgiveness is the first step.

Forgive the debt...the repayment can never, ever equal what was actually taken from you. The best thing you can possibly do for yourself is to set yourself free of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Sing with me...