I promised I would write a continuation of my discussion on forgiveness. I’m finally ready. On February 17, 2011 I wrote a post titled “What is Forgiveness?” I explained that I continue to struggle with the issue of forgiveness and concluded that I don’t understand what forgiveness really means.
From that post:
I won’t know the answer until I really understand what forgiveness is. After all the people I’ve listened to and books I’ve read, I still do not understand what they mean when they say, “I forgive my abuser.” Does it mean they understand why they were someone’s victim? Does it mean that they understand why the perpetrator did what they did? Does it mean that they have no bad feelings towards the abuser? What exactly does forgiveness mean?
In that same post I shared my husband’s perspective. He said:
It is a hard question. I think what you should do is think of someone you have forgiven, for a lesser offense. It is pretty tough to figure out forgiveness starting with your parents! Think about how you felt and what that forgiveness meant to you.
His words provided some solace but I was still troubled.
In August I received the monthly newsletter from my church. The Pastor mentioned he would be giving a series of sermons on forgiveness in September. My stomach churned a bit. Did I really want to hear what a religious figure would say? Was he going to preach that we must forgive? I decided it was time to speak to him personally before I sat in church wrestling with what I heard.
We met and I explained my confusion with forgiveness. I told him that I have consciously chosen not to seek revenge on my parents and that was the best I could do. I harbor no feelings of hatred towards them and I believe that judgment and punishment has come for him, (he’s deceased) and will come for her at her death.
I also told him about the work I have done to heal and the work I am doing now to help others heal. After listening to it all this is what he said ~
I think you are looking for too much, some big event that is going to tell you; I have forgiven! And then he told me a parable from the bible. I can only accurately share the essence of what he said. Jesus was speaking to one of his disciples and said you need to wipe the dust from your feet and move on.
Then my pastor said, “Roberta, you’ve done that. You have wiped the dust of them off of you. You have moved on to make a good life and are helping others. I believe that is your forgiveness.”
I have felt much better since that day. I know that I do not hold my abusers within me. They do not distract me from my ability to feel joy, to love or to do the work I was placed here to do. I have wiped their dust from my feet and I have moved on.
Is that forgiveness? It is one interpretation. It is the interpretation that brings me peace after a long hard struggle. I am thankful.
I hope this thought of forgiveness will bring peace to at least one of my readers. Roberta