Granting Forgiveness

I have spent far too many days, months, years angry with my mother for the childhood she bestowed upon me. I've born the weight of verbal injuries upon my breast and cried over them until I swore I'd never be able to cry a tear again. I'd tied my bitterness around my neck as a noose that I would hang myself, and every relationship I would seek from. In anger, bitterness, and hard-heartedness I was dead in my living. I cursed all that I touched.

I forgave my mom several years ago. I had realized that I needed to be free of the power hating her, wanting to see her get hers, had over me. So before she ever asked, and probably before she truly realized that I had such feelings toward her in so deep a way, I forgave her.

At first, it was very difficult. I had to give her forgiveness over and over. Sometimes I had to do it over and over in the same day. She drove me crazy! And sometimes I would find myself in a place where I couldn't let it go. I learned to stay clear of her on those days because I knew that the slightest look from her would add to my fury and bitterness, something neither of us could afford.

But the process was freeing. I began to feel like I'd lost fifty pounds! My breathing was easier, my steps lighter, and life was better. I had chosen to let go of my "I'll get even with you!" attitude. But just forgiving her didn't heal the relationship fully. It was only a stepping stone.

Last weekend I was watching an engineering challenge for teens on PBS. The challenge was to build a bridge over a marshy area. But to build that bridge, someone first had to step into the marsh, getting wet and dirty in the process. Forgiving someone who hasn't realized or asked for forgiveness is much like planting a stone as a foundation in a marsh. You get wet and dirty in the process, and you move closer to your goal. But you're far from done. You've granted forgiveness; you haven't given it.

It's really a huge step for most people: to forgive someone who has caused them deep harm or injury. But there is something far more wonderful out there...something that only hope can purchase. Restoration of relationships comes from granting AND giving forgiveness.

I'll talk more about giving forgiveness tomorrow.

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