Thursday, November 8, 2012

Forgiveness, Part 2

I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately.

Recently I wrote a post about it. I believe this was a genuine experience and that I knew real forgiveness in that moment—and beyond. But lately, I've begun to ask new questions and really search my heart.

One question I've considered: Can true forgiveness occur in the absence of change? Can one really forgive another unless that person who wronged her shows remorse and evidence of change? 10 weeks ago, I chose forgiveness without seeing change, knowing if change had or was going to occur, or even understanding how exactly I had been wronged. I simply knew that I was full of anger, hurt, hatred, and bitterness. I knew it was destructive to allow those feelings and emotions to fester. I knew they would choke me out, and I wanted freedom from it all.

So is that "selfish forgiveness?" Did I forgive because I wanted to be free from my own pain, because I hoped that in choosing to surrender my malice, I would move forward toward peace? Maybe I wasn't really loving another person well in that moment, but trying to love myself better? Or maybe both. Perhaps you can't remove one from the other...

Last weekend Joel and I talked about forgiveness. He shared his belief that change is required for real forgiveness to be extended. He thinks often true forgiveness is mistaken for a mere "letting go" of the pain one feels because time and distance eventually bring peace. While I understand his perspective, I (currently) don't agree. I think a person can forgive another without condition. I don't think it's easy by any means, nor do I think it happens often. But I do think it's possible, and I'd like to think that I chose such forgiveness last summer.

However, today I don't feel so free in my forgiveness. Right now something is holding me back from really, truly letting go. Maybe forgiveness, like love, is an ongoing choice—an action that you choose to walk out on a daily basis, rather than a momentary feeling, or an epiphany of sorts.

Is anyone out there a forgiveness guru? :) Or just have some experience or insight to contribute? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Victoria Mason said...

Yes, it is a daily walk I believe. I chose forgiveness years ago against someone who had hurt me so brutally in so many damaging ways. The "letting go" wasn't simultaneous. The choosing to forgive was something that I had to do to move on and did so probably for selfish reasons but in the end it worked. More than once I realized that I had to re-commit myself to those feelings of forgiveness but it would better in the long run. Does this even make sense? I hope so.

Anonymous said...

Forgiveness is a choice that you make. It doesn't matter whether the other person changes or not. You must choose to forgive, it's not easy but it can be done.

I don't believe that forgiving is forgetting.