“Forgiveness is the mightiest sword. . .” ~ Jane Eyre, OBC
I do not have much experience with offering forgiveness to others.
I have more instances where I needed to be forgiven, and for the most part, I am lucky to say I was. I understand what it means to let go of anger and hate, and to learn to pity those who have wronged me. But I do not have a lot of experience with actually forgetting. I have been one who often “keeps score” and tallies up the wrong done to me in an act of preservation when trying to defend myself in an argument.
I have since learned this is unhealthy, probably from more than one source. What is it then, to forgive someone completely? To let go of their prior wrongdoing? I guess the most experience I have with this working is when a relationship has reached its termination. It is easy to let go of something to bury it in the ground forever, but what of those with whom you still wish to foster a relationship? How do you deal with the feelings of fear and betrayal in the face of future possibilities of wrongdoing? is it the love you bear that person, and the desire to forgive them, that keeps the newly woven forgiveness in place?
How do you go about building faith in someone with whom you have received many lies and manipulation? How do you delineate between giving them the benefit of the doubt, and opening yourself up to the exact same pain again? To cut open your arm, peel back the skin, and willingly invite them to pour lemon juice inside? To let them see your naked side, still bearing the scars where they had previously stuck the knife in, and say, “Here are more places for you to stick your knife”?
Do you instead cut them off, tell them that it’s too late, and let them go on their merry way, knowing they have lost you and must find a new path and practice their newfound understanding of themselves on other poor souls? And if they become successful, and only make others happy in the future, do you congratulate yourself that their mistreatment of you ended there, and thus, at that point forgive them? Or do you indulge in sour grapes and let yourself bemoan how you were the unfortunate sacrifice in their tale, and wish for an alternate life where that didn’t happen?
I want to be a person that can honestly say I gave those whom I truly love the chance to show me they can do better. That it is not too late to admit fault, and work toward a better tomorrow. I have to believe it is pointless to deny myself the company of those brilliant souls if they are honestly making an effort to better themselves. I do not write people out unless they truly deserve it. I draw the line much further than most, I’m sure. But I have an uncanny habit of looking deeply at someone and seeing them for who they are. Call it a good or bad habit, that’s your prerogative. But if I find them staring back at me, vulnerable and open, I can’t leave them in the dust, alone and hurting.
I want no one else to feel what that is like, if I can help it.