It seems hard to conceive. Forgiveness? Why should I give him forgiveness? In my case, he’s not around to apologize. He’s not even alive to benefit from it. Why should I bother, when he hurt me without my consent, and left my family alone to pick up the mess?
The concept of forgiveness isn’t new to me. Back in college, during my happiness seminar, we were supposed to work on letters of forgiveness. She told us not to forgive our level ten pain, but instead to choose a five or six. I didn’t have a level five or six pain. I had a level ten. That day in class, I was antsy, my heart raced, as I prepared to sit down and work through things I hadn’t worked through in years. A classmate decided she wanted to work outside, and a bunch of us joined her. We talked about anything other than forgiveness, and fulfilled a different class objective. I dodged my bullet.
But now, it seems to keep popping up everywhere. At church, my Pastor preaches about it, about giving our burdens to God, and letting Him carry that weight. I’m ignoring. A song comes on the radio telling me to forgive and forget. I’m intrigued. I skip two weeks of church due to travel. An article shows up on facebook about forgiveness. I’m annoyed. When I come back from travel, my Pastor does an entire service again about forgiveness. I’m listening. Every time I hear it, I shake my head and laugh to myself. The signs are all there, will I listen?
Forgiveness Isn’t Something for Our Abusers
It turns out, forgiveness isn’t something for our abusers, it’s really not about them. It’s something for us. It allows us to live our lives to the fullest without being held back by our pain. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have pain. It manifests in funny ways, but it’s there. It’s there when I hear that stupid nursery rhyme that triggers me. It’s there every time I lock my bedroom door. It’s there in November when I don’t sleep because I’m afraid of the nightmares. I hide it really well, but it’s there.
Should I work on forgiveness if it will help me with all of these things? Maybe. But maybe I’m putting too much stock into an abstract thought. Maybe expecting all this will set me up for failure. If I’m being honest, the idea of forgiveness scares me. I’ve been holding on to my feelings for almost eleven years now. I’ve taken them and channelled them into something good, into my activism. Will this little seedlet of thought change my whole outlook? If I’m no longer holding on to pain, anger, and fear, will I be the same person? It’s easy to stay the same, it’s hard to grow, and I think my fear of forgiveness stems from this ease. But the truth is, all people must change, no one ever stays the same, and if I must change it might as well be for the better, right? I think I’m ready for this next step. God, I hear you. And I am listening.