After admiring the view from the top of a ‘forgiveness mountain’ in my life, I thought I’d never have to rehash the old conversations or dip into a dark cave of memories again. But as the layers of life peeled off and I found myself in new situations, I was confronted with the knowledge I was only part way on the forgiveness journey (very depressing – and a set up for eating bags of potato chips).
There are lots of people who look for a miracle on the shelf at a one stop shop with the hope that the twisting tornado in their heart can be calmed forever. It is understandable that in our immediate world of satisfaction we want to find the relief valve and get on with life. After all, there are better things to do like eating copious amounts of chocolate! (I am starting to sound like I have an issue with food)
My own experience of forgiveness has been a very convoluted journey and nothing about it has been easy or instant. With all the medical information about stress contributing to ill health, a light has been shone on unforgiveness as an evil ’emotional saturated fat’ (there goes another food analogy!) that is making our heart work harder. But…would we embrace the process more willingly if we looked at unforgiveness not as something toxic but as a right of passage that creates character? If I were somehow able to press a button or have an instant miracle and forgive, would I actually be doing my emotional health any favors?
I remember when my daughters were born and began to grow, my forgiveness journey had another layer peeled off. I was forced to reflect on my life experience through the eyes of being a father, all of a sudden my journey of forgiveness entered the next level as I filtered my experiences with the knowledge I now had about what it felt like to be a responsible parent. That knowledge made it even harder to understand some of the choices my own father had made. So….I had a choice of eating another bag of potato chips (ok…last food analogy I promise) or stretching my character and forgiveness muscle by taking one step closer to the teaching of Jesus.
If there is no process in forgiveness and it costs me nothing, the impact it will have on my character will be negligible. With all the focus on forgiveness over the years, it has put some sense of urgency to ‘get it done quickly’ so that you can escape the evils of its corrosive properties. Well…I have a different perspective – I think we should allow ourselves to sit in the tension for as long as it takes, feel the anger, understand the pain, contemplate how you have been affected and dig deep (I intend to write about this thought a little more in another entry – it wasn’t simple for me and had the potential to be unhealthy).
If I chose this harder path, I would forgive with depth and a fully engaged mind that would test and grow my character. If you have been wronged…at least make it work for you I say! OK….where is that bag of chips…