Sometimes I talk too fast. I just say what comes into my mind, so let me just apologize for my previous post that was completely incorrect at the introduction. I could go back to revise it, but I would rather have the conversation than just quiet anyone who would comment on what was wrong about what I said. While I do that, let’s also figure out what should have been said. So let’s begin…
In my last post, I said that forgiveness is relatively quick, but that is incorrect. It is incorrect for two reasons I can think of at the top of my head, and I am sure that there are other reasons I have not thought of yet.
The first reason
The first point about how forgiveness is not relatively quick can be said by saying a couple of other things. The first of which is a question. What exactly is relative to forgiveness? I mean, really, what IS relative? Forgiveness is diametrically opposed to grudges I guess, but what exactly could it be compared to the act of forgiveness? Nothing really.
The second thing that should be said about that statement being incorrect is that quickness is a relative term. (Speaking of relativity.) What may be quick to me would be slow to someone else. So, grammatically and factually speaking that whole statement is full of holes. Sorry about that. I don’t mean to be so flippant or dismissive of something that is REALLY difficult to do.
The second reason
Forgiveness is not relatively quick is because it is a difficult thing to do. It is not easy at all. It takes life-long practice and one that is not even easy to make strides in improving. And I think that is because of our innate reflex for self-preservation. To let go of an offense is to completely release control of our self-preservation instinct in a situation where we have been hurt.
Here is the bonus:
Something I have learned through listening to folks who are smarter than me is that forgiveness requires a sacrifice – something has to die. That is why our self-preservation is so wrapped up in NOT forgiving someone. Dying is not something we do very well.
Imagine for a moment that someone has done something to offend you or hurt you. It’s easy to pick something out of our past for this, so let’s do that. Now imagine you must let it pass. Problem is, you have to see them again and again throughout your life, your year, every month, every week!
But maybe you don’t. Maybe you have to experience a similar action or circumstance throughout the rest of your life… like riding a bicycle along a residential street after someone pulled out of a driveway and hit you… didn’t maim you, but you will definitely remember the impact, what you were doing, and where it came from for the rest of your waking days.
Can you imagine how difficult it would be to just let something pass, but still have to be impacted by that action? Yet some of us do this. We still have to “let it pass” each time you see that person, and each time you make contact with them or experience a similar situation you would, to a small degree, relive what they did to you and still “let it pass.” That is quite the sacrifice.
But, this is not forgiveness
You are still living with that pain, the anger, and the hurt. I heard it said in the same forum that harboring unforgiveness against someone is like drinking poison and expecting them to die. Isn’t that what we just described in the previous paragraph? Isn’t it poison to you to have to go through the anger all over again or the hurt or the pain of the resentment of being offended?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize there are all sorts of pain, like the pain of being hurt inside for someone not respecting or loving you enough to prevent a hurtful action. I get that. What I’m talking about here is not that kind of pain. If you experience this kind of pain, where you are suffering over and over again, are afraid, or just feel helpless, go get some help from someone. Change your circumstances, and deal with the pain you are experiencing over the tragic event. By all means, seek someone to help.
Unforgiveness needs relief
However, if you are hurting yourself through angst and anger for what someone has done to you in the past, I feel for you. I want you to have relief. I want you to be free of that torture that reliving the past can have on you. I want you to have solace from the waves of grief that your lost time and dignity have caused. So, let me tell you a truth that has helped me.
Something has to die.
Here it is: To get relief, obtain forgiveness; to achieve forgiveness, something has to die. However, it is not a physical death that really satisfies the payment for forgiveness. What relief would anyone ever feel by someone else dying? Really… chase that scenario to the conclusion. The loss has still occurred and the pain from that loss is still real no matter who or what dies. The hurt has still scored its deep scars in our psyche.
If ending someone else (our offender or some piece thereof) does not satisfy the forgiveness prerequisite, then what can ever satisfy that requirement? Literal death is not really the answer, and before you start imagining the death of your offender, let’s consider something else because we both know imagination did not accomplish much.
Dying to self might just be the answer.
If we decide to sacrifice the ability to receive compensation of some kind for the ill that has befallen us, then what else could stand up to that sacrifice? Surely not the previous notion of just passing it over. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we should love the person with an affectionate love or infatuation either, but it does mean dying to what we think we need; to satisfy our own desire for reconciliation. Demanding collection for what we think we need doesn’t reconcile anything at all, does it? It only demonstrates to the other person what level of anger we possess and that never heals anyone.
I saw on the news today, a family who thanked the jury for a death sentence for a guy who ambushed a police officer and killed him. I am in no way condoning what that man did or minimizing it in any way. However, killing that man who did that terrible thing only repays blood for blood. Aren’t we better than equal payment for an offense? Should we show that man kindness for ambushing and killing a defender of the peace by commuting his death sentence? I’m not sure. I hate the offense too and the damage to the lives affected by that very selfish and destructive act, but if we are to rise above the offenses against us, should we not do better than is done to us?
What about ME!!
We are hurt, and our being cries out for something – ANYTHING – to make it right again! We desire the connection we lost, and we want to not have the other person in this equation to tell us, by their actions, that their desires are more important than our personal space, our dignity, our identity.
So, right now you might be saying, “But Six, what about my feelings, I’m really hurting here!?” Without telling you I can identify with what you are feeling, I can sympathize at least. Yes, I know, it hurts to give up the right to recompense. Something dies inside of us.
It hurts DEEPLY!
To the core, it hurts, and it should not be that way! How could they do this to me? I deserve better! No, I DEMAND better! So, anger is born. And it lives and feeds off our indignation and our desire to visit on the head of our offender the hurt that they caused us – for revenge. It claws and gnaws at us from inside.
Sometimes you can feel it, deep in your gut, writhing through to your chest. Biting, scratching, clawing, gnawing, twisting, yearning to be freed to cause destruction on the other. It wants to make a wound that is comparable in size and depth as the wound from which it was birthed. Do you really want that to go on living? Yes, it’s parent was not just you. There was another. Yet it lives inside YOU, and you feed it. It’s not your fault at all, but that is the relationship, the symbiosis that exists because of the other.
I DEMAND PAYMENT!
Something must pay! Something must die, and something WILL die one way or another. So, there we have it. The real fight. The fight for will and for what lives and what dies. Who pays and who receives payment. What is better for your character as a person or better for society at large, calling their debt in for payment, or letting the debt – what is owed – our hurt and pain and anger – evaporate into nothing. To be selfless. What is the greater gain for our community? What builds you up as better?
Isn’t the payment of death of anger reaping rewards for the one who is hurt in this case?
Really the choice boils down to this.
Will I let this person’s offense toward me define me or will I overcome the damage done and be bigger than the problem. This doesn’t take away the magnitude of the problem itself. It only makes you better than the offense. That is what I wish for you, and for my victims.
So, I’m sorry that I missed the mark with the forgiveness thing. I made light of how truly difficult it is to forgive, and that was careless of me.