This morning I received a message of encouragement and kindness that has helped me change my frame of mind. It came from the least expected, but most obvious person possible. After exchanging a couple supportive messages, I looked at the daily quote that is sent to my email daily:
“Forgiveness creates an obligation for which there are no exceptions allowed.” – Giovanni Papini
In this blog, I have written often about love and forgiveness. What you may not always see about forgiveness is the very real struggle to swim against the tide of human emotion, pain, frustration, and desire in order to offer true forgiveness, a forgiveness that is given freely with no expectation of reward or reciprocation. Yesterday, I posted a very personal confession of my anger. It is not something of which I am proud, but I needed desperately to share it because it had been eating at me. Anger does that. It is the devourer. But, it is also a necessary emotion, because it allows you to release pain and frustration. How you release it is up to you. One thing that you cannot do, I have learned from painful experience, is carry it with you. Oh, it will remain with you for a time, but it will keep devouring you until you let it go. The act of forgiveness is the most powerful way to heal yourself and others.
We talk about forgiveness in the abstract. It seems so logical, so straight-forward, so obviously beneficial and easy. When forgiving someone we do not know well, or even know at all, I believe that is easy. We have no stake in the act of forgiveness. However, when forgiveness becomes personal, it reveals a complexity of struggle. The strength it takes to overcome deep hurt and the strength to let go of anger and pain is difficult to quantify because emotions are so much a part of who we are that it is a sacrifice to let even the most destructive ones go. So, where do we find that strength?
I see an obvious example in Jesus. However, his example is so perfect that it is daunting to try to even strive for it. But there are modern examples of true forgiveness, born in anger and pain, somehow filled with mercy and grace. They find an otherworldly strength to not only forgive, but to offer redemption and hope. Like this woman. And this woman. And this man. It is apparent that the perfect example, while daunting, is completely attainable. We DO have the strength to release anger, to offer forgiveness.
For me, I am still angry, but I know time will temper my anger. Now, I seek the strength to overcome the anger, get past it, and forgive. I need to find the grace within me, the inspiration to give without expectation. The struggle is now.