Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thoughts on Forgiveness in the Journey

St Jacobs (Ontario) Millrace trail
Being the proud recipent of a "deranged mind", my thoughts can go anywhere and everywhere.  Sometimes going off on different tangets in completely opposite directions at the same time.  From TV shows and personality traits to ... well ... the issue I'm struggling with (again) today:  forgiveness.

Forgiveness keeps cropping up in my journey.  I can't seem to escape it - no matter how hard I try.  Every particle of my being screams for justice.  I want justice.  Like a two-year old pounding his fists on the table or feet on the floor repeating the same phrase over and over in a loud voice.  A voice that will not be denied.  I WANT JUSTICE.

BUT....

There's always a but, isn't there?  Besides the one we sit on, I mean.

As a faith-based woman, the teachings in the Bible are my rulebook.  They're simple; just not easy.

The concept of forgiveness is simple.  Forgive those who have hurt you.  Those who have despitefuly used you.

BUT ... it's not easy.

Forgiveness goes against everything we believe in.

Again, we want justice.  Sometimes we want revenge.  We want the person punished for the hurt they have given us.

Whether it was spreading gossip leading to slander leading to defamation of character or something else, we want the person confronted with their wrongdoing.

Over and over in my mind, the scenario inflicted on me plays out.  The scenario that caused two back-to-back stress breakdowns with subsequent psychiatric injury.  Workplace abuse.  Verbal abuse.  You name it, it probably happened.  Although I was told that this was all in  my imagination and that it never happened.  I was accused of having perceptions and assumptions.  Eventually, I was forced to resign.

Every step forward seems to entail two - or more - backwards.  Little ones forward.  Gigantic ones backward.  Or so it seems.

The current step forward - learning about and how to use Social Media effectively through an on-line course is a case in point.  Exploring what I'm learning, I find people from different parts of my journey on the net.  Accidentally.  And that brings everything back to the forefront of my mind once again.  It feels as though it just happened yesterday although several years have passed.  It feels like it will never go away.  That I will never be able to leave the past behind and go forward into the future - a future that does not contain any of the people involved.

This is where forgiveness comes in.  The only way I can ever hope to leave the past behind is to leave it on the altar of forgiveness.  To forgive each and every person involved for their part in what happened:  bully and bystander alike.

Sometimes it feels like a grocery list of people to forgive should be tacked up on my refrigerator.  Sometimes when I'm praying, I feel like I'm merely reciting a list.

 Sometimes it feels like an impossible task.  Sometimes it feels like an unfair task.  Why should I forgive these people?  They're the wrong doers!  Which is exactly why they need to be forgiven.  Because they did wrong.  We don't need to forgive the one who blesses us.  Who supports us and holds us up.  They don't need my forgiveness.  Gratitude, definitely.  It's the ones who hurt me who need to be forgiven by me.  Not because they deserve it.  They don't.   They need it because I need to let go of what happened, to let go of any control over the situation.  Not to see them free.  But to set me free.

For my well-being.  For my sanity. For my eventual recovery.

I like the way Belleruth Naparstek in her book Invisible Heroes:  Survivors of Trauma and How they Heal describes the benefits of forgiveness.  Coming from a purely practical, psychological framework, she writes:  "The point for the survivor is to forgive in order to free up the energy that has been bound up in anger and resentment, and has therefore been inaccessible.  The goal of forgiveness is to gain a fuller, more vibrant life.  It is a form of kindness to the self" (page 263).

She writes concisely in one and a half pages what has taken me years to internalize in my process.

Once again, I surrender my right for justice.  My (perceived) rights for revenge.  I surrender them to the One who has walked with me through every step, every incident, every gut-wrenching step of the way.

The One who knows me intimately - and loves me anyway.

Forgiveness is usually not a one-time deal.  Often, it is a process with the accompanying forward and backward movements inherent in the journey.

But I am convinced that one day it will come.

Until then, I continue to choose to follow the path of forgiveness.

The path of most resistance.

For my sake.

Same day - same path
Further along

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