I don’t know about you guys, but I have a difficult time with forgiveness and the compassion that goes with it. Maybe that’s because it’s a problem for me to forgive myself for transgressions, even teeny-tiny ones, let alone find the largeness of spirit to forgive others. I was raised to embrace guilt (the gift that keeps on giving) and it’s a tentacled monster that doesn’t want to let go.
Some days I manage better than others.
It took a long time for me to understand the notion that forgiveness toward another person is not the same thing as condoning what they’ve done. If someone hurt me deeply, why should I forgive them and let them blithely walk away, all innocent and smug? But that’s not the point. The point is to remove from your own shoulders the burden of maintaining that anger or rage or hurt so you don’t have to live with it every day for the rest of your life.
I’m working on it.
There are a few people on my “hard to forgive” list; some friends, some family, a few people I barely know. I’ll think I’ve done a pretty good job expunging their black mark from my life, but then some trigger sets me off again. All the old hurts and resentments coming pouring out, tainted with as much bitterness as before, if not more. In some cases, I don’t want to forgive them. I don’t want to carry around the bad emotions, no, but I don’t want to set them free.
And that’s the thing, the mystery as to why I don’t want to turn them loose, why I feel the need to hang on to the pain. Often, I’ll take steps to back away from the person, inject some distance in our relationship. Yet there’s something that just … won’t … let … go.
It’s annoying as hell.
Because there must be something I get out of it, but what? Of what possible use is retaining those sorts of emotions unless <and here’s a bit of the proverbial light bulb> hanging onto them keeps me from seeing something else I ought to deal with.
Here is a bit of wisdom on compassion from Nadia Bolz-Weber