If I withhold it I feel justified,
If I give it I am freed,
If I ask for it I am vulnerable,
If it is given to me I am renewed.
Forgiveness is an act;
What is forgiveness?
When a child is scorn by a playmate they experience hurt feelings and temporary anger. All that’s needed to make the situation better is a simple act of kindness; sharing of a toy or a piece of candy. Children find it easy to forgive by going about life living in the moment. They don’t focus on the past, or ponder too much about the future.
A loved pet, whose owner scolds them for pooping on the floor, is scolded with a yell or even a newspaper smack on the rump. This pet understands that they have done something’s that displeases the owner, and in most cases, comprehends that this behavior is unwanted. In just a few moments, after the owner returns to normal vocal tones, the pet runs up tail wagging offering love they both enjoy.
In relation to full grown adults, with mature emotional judgments, forgiveness seems to be much more difficult. They don’t easily overcome an offense and often times hold on to hurt feelings well past any memory of the exact event. They are quick to “write someone off” leaving no chance for reconciliation or forgiveness.
This is where I ponder what forgiveness is.
My mother recently passed away. For years she was the most negative person I had ever known. She held on to past hurts like a million dollars worth of gold. She caressed her hurts; bringing them out daily to gaze at their dirty little bruises. Every time I spoke with her, she’d go into her pouch-of-pain and recount a story I’d heard a thousand times before. I began to dread conversations with her. I knew, however, I had to endure them just to find out how she was doing. I eventually learned to mentally tune-out during the pouch-of-pain sessions, blinking back to consciousness just in time to say goodbye.
In a weird twist of fate, my mother also committed offenses toward her family too numerous to name. My family was fractured and badly hurt. There was a serious need for forgiveness all the way around.
Prior to my mother’s recent death, she found forgiveness. Forgiveness that was rightly undeserved, basically unearned and completely free. My mother found forgiveness as she faced her own faults and her own failures. Forgiveness let her off the hook as she let everyone else off too. My mother passed away in peace after making peace with herself, her family and all mankind.
A bible truth says, “You reap what you sow.” This can wonderfully apply to forgiveness too. If we want forgiveness, we have to give it. We can never take back things we’ve done to hurt others, but we can offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us.
When I ponder forgiveness, I must conclude, it is necessary to sustain life. We must give it, receive it, offer it and accept it. Like a child living in the moment, the only sure moment we have is the one we’re using right now. Tomorrow is never promised. So, in order to live our full lives, the pouches-of-pain must be emptied. They must be replaced with jars-of-joy, cans-of-contentment, pouches-of-peace, and a belly-full-of-laughter.
What is forgiveness? It is freedom.