Life that Works: Finding Forgiveness

February 4th, 2011

“Forgiving is love’s toughest work, and love’s biggest risk.  If you twist it into something it was never meant to be, it can make you a doormat or an insufferable manipulator.  Forgiving seems almost unnatural.  Our sense of fairness tells us people should pay for the wrong they do.  But forgiving is love’s power to break nature’s rule.”  ~Lewis B. Smedes

Sometimes forgiveness catches you by surprise. It happens when every reason to maintain your distance and all pain that keeps your heart from someone, evaporate.  I have been struggling to find my center lately, a lonely space that inspired me to reach out to an old friend that I had missed very much over the last several months.  Perhaps we were both searching for our center, because we connected in that old place and all that had to be said was how sorry we were and how much we wanted to be forgiven.

Forgiveness is a mutual space. It isn’t like one person gives it to the other; both people have to want it enough for it to work its magic. Like an intimate dance, real forgiveness releases the past in the present moment and enlarges the future. It replaces heartache with possibility. Something material, almost cellular, happens in both people because the time before, the time when you were stuck, actually evaporates. Real forgiveness is the clean slate because neither person carries the memory of the pain forward.

I cried. She cried. The tears were so happy to leave me. I thought that I had learned to live with the sadness of the friendship’s end, but I realized that although we get adept at accommodating our brokenheartedness, the light and freedom of letting go of it, is the real gift of forgiveness. Remarkably everything felt lighter and more possible after rubbing in the balm of forgiveness. The angels have said that it is the one healing salve that is required for humanity to persist. Finding forgiveness for others is how we manage it for ourselves.

There are still many people in my life for whom I have not been able to find forgiveness, much as I know that the freedom I would be offering would be mostly for my own benefit. It is easy to get lost in a sense of fairness that is violated at the idea of forgiving people who have harmed you. It is a natural defense that is easy to justify. Still,  walking beside my dear friend and listening for what happened in her that made her leave, didn’t bring up any anger today. Her ability to recognize the pain that I shared with her during that time made me only love her.

We are all imperfect and a little bit crazy. We are lucky when we are able to function and work at our imperfections and hold our brokenness with tenderness. We are blessed when we can forgive each other for the places that break down between us and choose to walk together again.

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