Lately, I've been learning a lot about forgiveness. I would say it's on my mind a lot. I don't think I've ever understood truly what forgiveness was as much as I do now, and I know there is more to learn. Along with learning what forgiveness is I've had to learn what forgiveness is not. I have to thank a good friend who knows a lot more than me about these things for helping me with both parts of that equation. I've also learned a great deal from a great book I've been reading. I found this summary of some things that are often mistaken for forgiveness that I found especially helpful:
"You do not have to forget after you forgive; you may, but your forgiving can be sincere even if you remember.
You do not excuse people by forgiving them; you forgive them at all only because you hold them to account and refuse to excuse them.
You do not forgive people by smothering conflict; if you forever smother people's differences, you rob them of a chance to forgive. [and I would add, to be forgiven]
You do not forgive people merely by accepting them; you forgive people who have done something to you that is unacceptable.
You do not have to tolerate what people do when you forgive them for doing it; you may forgive people, but still refuse to tolerate what they have done. [or what they are doing]"
- pg. 49 Forgive and Forget; Healing the Hurts We Don't Deserve by Lewis Smedes
I will probably post more about what forgiveness is in later posts, but what I've learned so far can be summed up in a few bullet points:
-Forgiveness is a process. Part of that process is allowing myself to feel the full weight of the pain inflicted on me by the person I seek to forgive.
-I can't impose a timeline on forgiveness.
-Forgiveness is for the forgiver first and the perpetrator second.
-I can forgive even if I don't want to re-establish contact with that person.
-God loves me, He is patient with me.
-Being hurt is terrible and inexcusable. But I can learn and grow from my pain and become a better, wiser person because of it.
-Forgiving doesn't mean I'm a doormat. Being a doormat doesn't mean I have forgiven.
-Forgiveness, real forgiveness, feels like the warmth of the sun on your heart.
So there it is. If you made it this far, if you read that whole thing, congratulations! If you were here I'd give you a cookie. And I'd even make it gluten free/vegan/lactose free if you asked me to. You're welcome.