I remember reading The Colour Purple as a young woman and being struck by the way in which the main character ended up having relationships with people who had done her harm in her life. I was young and inexperienced at the time and could not imagine how she could forgive these people and allow them back into her life.
Now that I am on the autumn side of my life, I can relate to that a little more. Over the years, I have found myself letting go of old grievances with people and moving on in our relationships. I have found myself feeling lighter with my two parents over the last few years as they get older and frailer. I find myself forgiving them for their failings and limitations as parents; for being insensitive; for not seeing me; for abandoning me. I find myself feeling more compassion for them; understanding that they were just kids when they became parents; knowing that they did the best they could.
My older sister and I once had an argument where irrevocable things were said. We did not talk for 6 months and then one day, when we bumped into each other at a soccer field, we just picked up where we left off. Our relationship was changed but better; as if the argument, and the absence from one another’s lives, helped us to define the boundaries of our relationship and to appreciate each other more.
One of my oldest friends once had an affair with the man who is now my husband. He and I had been living together for a few years when he decided that he wanted to separate. During this time, he got involved with a woman who would later become his daughter’s teacher. When he and I got back together, I met her through his daughter. A funny thing happened; I could see why he got involved with her. Over time, she and I became friends; meeting for lunches by ourselves; something we have continued for more than 20 years. I have always been a little surprised at myself that I was able to do this; wondered what gift of grace allowed me to invite this woman into my circle.
I am reminding myself of these instances of forgiveness and grace because I am in need of reminding. I feel full of anger these days; I feel betrayed, unsupported, and unseen; and it eating away at me. This anger feels like a heavy weight that I carry around with me. It leaks into my life in ways that disappoint and embarrass me. I want to let this anger go. I don’t want to be this bitter person who feels disappointed in people and life. But I am not quite sure how to start.
A good friend of mine believes that we cannot make forgiveness happen; that it is a state of grace; something that happens when we are ready or blessed with it. I think there is truth in that but I think there are things that we can do to make the ground fertile for forgiveness. So, this week, I am going to pray for grace; for the anger to dissipate; for the feelings of disappointment to lift. I am going to pray for joy in my life again.
- Forgiveness is a process (celestealluvial.wordpress.com)
- Forgiveness: Truly Letting Go (leslieannvarela.wordpress.com)
- The Magic of Forgiveness and 7 Steps to Get There (actingoutwithangela.com)
- Forgive and Forget (itrustmyjourney.wordpress.com)
- The Perennial Debate: Anger v.s. Forgiveness!!!!!!! (celestinerhythm.com)