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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Begin with Forgiveness

It's been a few years since the Lavender Squeak incident, where I learned to apply forgiveness in my own life, so I'm finally willing to say with some authority "yes, this solution works."

Let it go.

One of the curses of living in time is that the past can't be changed. What happened, happened. Whatever the cost, whatever the result, dwelling on it will not do anything except make you miserable and useless now.

Forgiveness begins with forgiving God. Some Christians gasp when you say that. "You can't forgive God! God never makes mistakes!" Maybe not, but God can do or allow things that get my dander up, and, like any friendship, require me to forgive him for testing our relationship.

When I was mad at God, I had to forgive him first. It wasn't an emotion. It was a decision. I decided that I would no longer hold that action against him. It was done, it was behind us, and we would move forward from that moment on without looking back. I marked the account "paid" and I turned the page. The offense is not something I review daily or hourly. It collects dust in a shoebox under the rafters, untouched, waiting for the retention schedule to wind down before being chucked into the shredder.

This is not the same as avoidance. I am fully aware of the offense. I chose not to seek retribution. I chose not to obsess. I chose to let it go. I use past tense because the initial choice solves the problem. I don't entertain the thought "I'm forgiving you for this terrible thing" daily. That isn't forgiveness. Forgiveness is making the choice to let it go, and then letting it go.

For me, the decision to forgive and the release from the anger and the hurt took one night. I decided to forgive, I went to bed, and I woke up lighter than I'd been in years. The anger, bitterness, and hurt was completely diffused. I had trouble even remembering the intensity of the emotions I'd felt fewer than 12 hours before. I believe that my decision to forgive allowed the divine mystery that is God's forgiveness to free me from my past. I do not know if this works for non-Christians. I do not believe it is something a human can do apart from God. I only know that I didn't experience release until I made the decision to let it go.

The offense surfaced in my mind a few more times, but each time I set it firmly behind me and focused on the future. I would have to review this blog to even remember the exact string of events now, so far have I come from that pain, although it was only a few years past.

Please, dear Brothers and Sisters, let it go. All of it. Decide to forgive. Set your past offenses, hurts and tortures down, and walk away from them. They are past. You have the whole future ahead, and how much easier it will be without all that garbage crushing you. As you let go of the past, you may find a whole string of things you didn't even know were there that also require forgiveness. I did. I forgave them, too. I was unbound.

Forgive God, forgive yourself, and forgive your torturers. There will one day be a divine reckoning, and we will be forgiven as we have forgiven others. There's no better time to start your new life.

Embrace your faith.

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