I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of forgiveness lately. I’m not sure I fully understand what it means or maybe I am on a journey towards getting a grip on the whole idea. I am sure that I have practiced it. And I am equally certain that I have been forgiven by others.
I have heard time and again of the importance of forgiveness as it frees you up to let go and move on. But I’m not quite in agreement with that advice. We are told if we don’t forgive that we are holding onto a grudge or anger or allowing ourselves to continue to be a victim. No, no, no!
Forgiveness is a weighty matter and depends upon the circumstances of another’s transgressions. It is equally dependent on whether the other party has sought to make amends, take responsibility for the pain caused to the aggrieved party or practice redemptive actions.
If someone has not actively done any of that, how can we really forgive? We can accept what has happened to us, grieve and live the pain for a bit and move on to a new and perhaps (if we are lucky) an even better life. I believe acceptance of what happened to us is not passive in nature at all. My current life is living proof of this fact as many of you who have been following me well know.
Here’s what I can do. I can compliment my former spouse for making two good decisions in his life: marrying me and divorcing me. Because he married me, I received two gifts that will last a lifetime and beyond: my sons. They are living proof of two decent human beings who understand life’s purpose and bring joy and steadfast love to their world. Moreover, because he divorced me, I received a second chance at a better life. Everything that has happened to me, the experiences, the people, the places I have seen and the joy I have known would NEVER have occurred if he did not choose to go. Both my sons and I would have missed out on the riches that all these things have brought to our lives. Imagine that!
So here is what I can forgive: his inability to fundamentally commit to family life. The man just does not have the capacity because of his family of origin’s extreme dysfunction. His original wound has not healed. I have genuine sympathy for that young man who suffered because of one parent’s indiscretions. At the beginning of our life together, neither one of us would know the degree to which this informed our marriage. Over time it increasingly held me hostage and spilled over until it took the form of neglect as well as emotional and verbal abuse.
And that is what I cannot forgive yet. Do I expect an apology? An acknowledgement? Maybe. Or perhaps if I saw glimmers of hope in his relationship with our sons I could take that step. So far not so good.
In the meantime, I continue to live out loud. A free woman. Let loose from the chains of harsh criticism and passive aggressive behaviors. Walking lightly-some say floating- on this good earth.