You and I, in one way or another, have been angered and hurt by someone in more ways than one. We all know, in differing degrees, how it feels to be betrayed, denied, trampled upon, bullied, rejected, abused, etc. And once in our lives, we were caught in a dilemma whether to hold on to our anger and resentment or forgive.
We all need to forgive. And everyone needs forgiveness. Because it is healing for both forgiver and forgiven. Because it frees us from the bondage of resentment and anger which saps our soul of its ability to sprout and bear much fruit. Because it is the ultimate gesture of loving and taking care of ourselves.
Forgiveness is not so much about the other person being forgiven although that is an inevitable consequence. But primarily, it is for the person seeking to forgive who makes the conscious decision to finally allow herself to sing and dance again. Because for most of us, we hang on to unforgiveness long after the person who aggrieved us has moved on already.
Yes, it is hard to forgive especially if the harm done is grave enough. It is so difficult to forgive if you have been abused or raped. It seems impossible to forgive if it involves death of a loved one or destruction of property. It seems easier to be angry than forgive someone who promised us complete love but shared it with someone instead, after you have given your all.Â What can be more hurting than to be stabbed on the back and betrayed by a trusted friend?
But in the end, we still need to forgive how grave the harm done and how deep the wound may be. That is the only route to real freedom and healing. But forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. You donâ€™t reconcile with a criminal or an abuser lest it increases the chances of the crime to be repeated again. To forgive is not necessarily to be friends again especially after character flaws are revealed.
But forgiveness is sweeter if there is reconciliation. When relationships are mended and there is a conscious effort to start again, there is a greater chance for the love to bloom. While reconciliation is an added bonus, it is not a necessary element in forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgetting is suppressing. It is killing the memories alive. But because it is alive, it will continue to linger and will cause more harm than good to our functioning. But you can only forget in due time if you have truly forgiven.
You know you have truly forgiven if you can wish well for the other person. If your remembrance of the event make you say, â€œIt is part of my past now.â€ If you can embrace what happened and be not disturbed by the emotions anymore. If you can sing these lines, â€œI remember the boy, but I donâ€™t remember the feeling anymore,â€ then you have forgiven.
Forgiveness is not a one-time act. It is a continuous process.Â It starts with anger and a desire to get even. There is a wish and intent to do to the other person what she has done to you. It is a normal reaction to salvage our teetering sense of self due to the violation. To be angry is to defend and keep ourselves intact after a breach of trust.
But after some time, we need to learn to gradually let go of our resentments and anger. But in doing so, we donâ€™t necessarily need to again expose ourselves to the same hurts and pains. We forgive, yes, but we also make a conscious effort to protect ourselves from the perpetrator especially if it increases the chances of the commission of the crime.
It is easier to forgive if our perpetrators show genuine remorse by asking forgiveness and mending her ways. It is harder to do the same to somebody who doesnâ€™t even care. But then again, our interest is how to take care of ourselves and if the person does not care, there is no use going after her. It is a waste of our valuable time and energy to withhold forgiveness.
Forgiveness does not mean we should not seek for justice, especially for grave violations against our person and integrity. But ultimately, forgiveness is the only answer to keep ourselves healthy and fully functioning.
Our ability to forgive is affected by our orientation of people. If we were raised believing that people are what they are and that they cannot change, then we will get stuck in unforgiveness. But if we were constantly shown compassion and the people who surrounded us asked forgiveness if they have committed mistakes and changed their ways, then forgiveness will come handy.
Indeed to err is human, to forgive is divine. While we are humans prone to commit mistakes, we are also indomitable spirits capable of doing great things only endowed upon divine beings. First in the list is forgiveness. In this season of lent, let us be forgiven and offer forgiveness as well.
P.S. Bohol Child Head Start is now accepting enrollees for Summer 2016 and S.Y. 2016-2017. For inquiries, you may call or text 416-1248/09295571136. You can also visit our website at www.boholchild.com. (By Kit Nemenzo Balane)