…is a simple truth which will set you free when you practice it and leave you in slavery when you don’t.
It comes right after “Day 64: Pride…” for a reason. At the core of the unwillingness to forgive or receive forgiveness is pride.
People who won’t receive forgiveness are prideful, exalting themselves to be judge, jury and God for their own shortcomings and imperfections. Like a pre-teen who would prefer to pout and self-loathe than be reconciled, so are adults unwilling to lower themselves to be given the gift of being taken off the hook by another — leaving them utterly a-lone in a solitary confinement of their own choosing in a prison cell called victimhood, where the door locks from inside. Ultimate pridefulness is the unwillingness to receive forgiveness from the compassionate and gracious God, who is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. The only one who cannot be forgiven by God is the one who will not receive it — a self-imposed life sentence called hell.
People who won’t extend forgiveness are also prideful, exalting themselves to be judge, jury and God for others’ shortcomings and imperfections. People who won’t forgive are unwilling to “lower themselves” to give the gift of being taken off the hook to another. Pride reasons it’s the way to make others pay and the way to self-protect from being hurt again. The paradox of failing to forgive others is it makes you their slave, and they your master, hooked together by your own ball and chain. This unwillingness to forgive leads to a different form of solitary confinement called the fortress of survivor-hood, where there are many rooms to hoard grievances, to store the hot coals which burned you, and to drink the poison of bitterness. Replaying offenses over and over again produces mental illness, making the one unwilling to forgive toxic to their other relationships.
Misconceptions can get in the way of forgiving. Forgiveness is different than forgetting. It’s different than pretending you weren’t hurt. It’s different than a waiver of justice. It’s different than trusting or reconciling with the offender. It’s often not a one-time thing.
Forgiveness is a choice and a skill and a process.
Forgiving another is a choice to not pay back evil with evil, and to not exact personal retribution, and to not usurp the seat of justice belonging to a higher authority. It’s a choice which requires humility — and courage (the essential beginning with Day 67). It’s a choice to give and receive love.
If you want to experience any measure of closeness in your relationships and the true ONEness BTL believes in, become a master in the art of forgiveness. As the saying goes, to err is human and to forgive divine. The skill of forgiveness is cultivated by cultivating gratitude as you remember what it’s like to be forgiven. It’s cultivated by focusing first on asking for forgiveness for whatever part you may have had in a conflict. It’s cultivated by choosing to forgive and communicating forgiveness quickly. It’s cultivated by choosing to re-forgive when new events trigger painful memories. It’s cultivated by learning to forbear with each other’s idiosyncrasies.
And it’s cultivated by remembering the power of forgiveness to awaken, challenge and transform — watch this beauty of a clip from Les Miserables and see why he is who forgiven little loves little and why he who is forgiven much loves much.
Are you becoming a master of receiving forgiveness? of giving it? What’s holding you back? Write.