The key takeaway from the last blog seems to be the focal point. We cannot forgive until we stop focusing on the other person. When we think about the pain, we think of ourselves. When we think of the solution, we look to the other person to heal us. That's not possible. Even if they said "Sorry", you cannot internally be healed by such words. The healing is intrinsic to yourself.
Forgiveness is not so much about the other person as it is about what is happening within us. Do our hearts allow us to heal? Forgiveness is all about us through and through. If we truly want to heal, we have to exorcise the demon controlling us from within. Only with such an expulsion will we have enough room to heal. That monster stops us from letting the Holy Spirit in because we're too busy focusing on the other person.
The sad part about not forgiving is that you become your own prisoner. You poison the well not because you're trying to harm yourself, but because you're so focused on others, you don't realize that your well has gotten infested with disease. It's vital to let go of the anger and hurt. Leave it somewhere else. Do yoWe u practice meditative walks in a labyrinth? Leave the pain in the center. Do you walk in the countryside? Leave it in the woods. Some who attend church services on Ash Wednesday write down their pains and sins on a piece of paper and it's those papers that are burned into ashes. Mark your head with those ashes, reminding yourself that they came from you but have been sent to the fire.
This isn't easy and doesn't come overnight. You've got to wait, strengthen, and find nourishment to swell past the small space you left for your heart. But always remember, when patience is lacking, that God's grace forgives first and foremost. If Jesus asks that we be forgiven, then we ourselves must work towards that same forgiveness of others. Our rebirth comes from God forgiving us our sins. We can be set free, if only we allow and see that freedom.
Perhaps we need to consider forgiveness and pain in context with other contrasting reactions. The prayer normally attributed to St Francis is one of my favorite healing prayers, especially in times when forgiveness is challenging. It helps me because it contrasts pain and pardon with other difficult reconciliations. When I pray for the strength to forgive, I start here.
- Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
- Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
- Where there is injury, pardon;
- Where there is error, truth;
- Where there is doubt, faith;
- Where there is despair, hope;
- Where there is darkness, light;
- And where there is sadness, joy.
- Grant that I may not so much seek
- To be consoled as to console;
- To be understood as to understand;
- To be loved as to love.
- For it is in giving that we receive;
- It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
- And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.