(Originally posted on 7/13/10)
Click on the following link to hear the song that inspired this post:
"I Forgive" (from the Matt Gress album "The Other Side of Interruption")
Let those words escape through your lips for a moment. Just saying those two seemingly simple words feels like a release. Those words change things. They alter lives, heal hurts, bring us together, divert paths, break us down, clean us up...give us new life...mark new beginnings.
But those words aren't simple.
People are jerks sometimes. People do horrible things. They lie, steal, cheat, betray, gossip, leave, abandon, forget, and on and on. How can we possibly forgive someone when they do these things? Why should we?
Life is a process and I will never say that I have even remotely figured it out. But, I have at least started to figure out a few things. One of them is forgiveness.
Anger is a truly destructive thing. It can cause us to commit a multitude of terrible acts. But, it can also eat away at our own lives. It can erode our internal asset of resiliency. It steals our peace.
Most of the time, we don't even realize...or want to realize...what is going on with our lives.
I have come to the conclusion that life is almost completely about relationships. Our relationships to people, things, ourselves, our needs, our desires, our Creator, our world. When we are shackled by one of these relationships, we never fully feel OK.
Those words can help us get closer to OK. People often make the mistaken assumption that if you forgive you have to forget. That is not true. I am not God. You are not God. We cannot forget. Just because you offer forgiveness to someone doesn't mean they shouldn't face consequences. It just means that you refuse to allow them to steal anymore of your life from you. Let it go.
There are ancient words that we find in writings we call the Old and New Testament. There is a lot of wisdom in these words. I particularly love the Greek words for forgive/forgiveness. One is Charizomai, from the word Charis, which means grace. We're pretty familiar with that idea. At least we should be. We all screw up enough to need grace at least once in a while. (If you don't, please contact me. I need to know how you do it! ) The other word is aphiemi, which means to send away. love this concept. To forgive is to send it away. Get rid of it. Send it completely away. Imagine if you lived like that. What would happen if you literally extended grace and sent the issue away? You might not feel so negatively connected to the person who is in the middle of the issue. You may even reconcile. You might move on.
When we forgive, it is much more for ourselves than the other person.
Try it today. Try to "send it away." Attempt grace the best you can. Free yourself form the junk everyone else is dragging around. Escape the prison you've allowed someone to build around you. Forgive, as completely as you can, right now. It's a process. But, the process has to start somewhere.
Let those words escape your lips.