“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

It would have been easier to post the meme today.  But, as I said, I have been contemplating the meaning of the season, and the theme I find for myself this year is the Christmas message that centers around forgiveness.

I am, as a rule, a forgiving person.  I will give a person “one more chance” long, long after my husband (and any other sane human being) has written them off as incorrigible.   As I have aged, I have mellowed and my skin has become thicker.  My tolerance has grown as the red in my hair has faded.  But this year I have gotten a series of object lessons in what forgiveness truly means.

 And I am flunking Forgiveness 101.

Christmas is there to teach us the meaning of true forgiveness.  Not only the sacrificial quality inherent in forgiving our transgressors, but the necessity of it in acheiving grace.   I have realized, in this quest, I am just going to have to flounder a bit more before enlightenment descends upon me.  Human frailty has sidetracked me.

Here’s the thing about forgiveness.   It’s easy to give it when the object of the forgivness is remorseful for what they did, when they want to be forgiven, but don’t expect it.  When apologies have been given and accepted, forgiveness becomes a way to repair, to soothe, to smooth and to move forward.  This I can do.  Even when the hurt is deep, even when the trespass is great, I can release my pain and live in the acknowledgment that we all sin against each other.

But, what the Nativity tells us is that forgiveness does not require the transgressor to be sorry for what they did.  It does not require remorse.  Request is not a requirement.  Acknowledgement is not even a requirement.  “Give” is the operative syllable – forgivness is a gift, and gifts are given without expectation of return.  The transgressor does not need to “deserve” forgiveness. 

But, boy howdy, when they don’t, it makes that high road look unattainably high.

To my shame, not only have I fallen off that high road – I haven’t even reached for it.

When the hurt is deliberate and malicious; when it has been carelessly cruel and unrepentant, I cannot bring myself to let it go.  I hold this one in my heart like a hot coal, burning with my sense of righteous anger and indignation.  I cannot forgive, and at my basest, most primal level, I don’t want to.  There is a passion to hatred that can be almost as obsessional as love, but unlike love, becomes a heavier burden as it is nutured. 

So I fail at forgiveness.  On a spiritual level, I want to release the burden.  I want to extend the hand of grace.   But I am just going to have to claw my way up that hilltop a little longer before I will get there.

And I know when I do, God will forgive me for the journey.

That’s the part that keeps me even trying.

Wishing you all Peace, outside and inside, this Holiday Season.

December 21st, 2007 at 1:12 pm
3 Responses to “Failing at Forgiveness 101”
  1. 1
    jodi Says:

    I’m not good at forgiveness at all. I have a very hard time letting things go and remember what happened forever.

  2. 2
    William McNaughton Says:

    Actually, I leave forgiving to God. He’s good at it, and infinite. Cross me, and I stay pissed forever. I’ve got grudges from Kindergarten.

    Mind you, I don’t stay actively malignant. That takes too much energy. But I’ll step over them if they’re lying in a gutter, and I won’t pee on them if they’re on fire.


  3. 3

    So true and what you have said here is so well stated.

    Someone very close to me was the victim of a violent crime many years ago – and now all these year later, I give and then rescind forgiveness almost daily. Forgiveness is the hardest of all things to really do.