The Power and Place of Forgiveness

The Power and Place of Forgiveness December 29, 2020

There is a subtle rhythm to the way we live. A pattern of ups and downs, twists and turns. Consolation and desolation. We do well for a time or in a certain area. And then not so well.

We spend the majority of our life trying to shortcut this rhythm so that we avoid pain. Of course, that is not a terrible thing. We should try to do better, to be better. We should fight against injustice. We should take our stands and choose our hills to die on.

One of the most overlooked realities of making those kinds of choices is that by choosing which hills to die on, we are also choosing which to ignore.

And so, we live in this constant tension of accepting the reality of how things are but wanting them to change. The thin line between what we can and cannot control. The difficult balance between holding tight and letting go.

The Power of Forgiveness

One of the reasons forgiveness is such a powerful force in this world is that it thrives in that awkward in-between space. It lives in the midst of both accountability and grace.

As the year comes to a close, I am considering what in my life I need to let go of. Some things, heading into the new year, I may need to double-down on, to invest in more fully. But others, like wilted leaves, need to be pruned. Cut loose. Let go.

Forgiveness is not an acknowledgment that what has happened is okay. Often the hardest person to forgive is ourselves, because we do not feel as though we should be allowed to “get away” with whatever messed up thing we did. Our actions have consequences. Forgiveness is not about neglecting those consequences; it is about upholding them in their full and proper place – no more or no less.

As is often said, forgiveness is more about the forgiver than the forgiven. I am not thinking about what external things “deserve” to be forgiven, what needs to be beat up a little more and what doesn’t. I am trying to think about me as a person of character, thriving for the low bar of human decency and some semblance of sanity in this bizarre world. What do I need to let go of? And what do I need to do? Forgiveness is not about external circumstances and their level of acceptability. It is about looking within myself and accepting what I can and cannot control. What level of peace am I willing to accept within myself?

The Power

Forgiveness is powerful because it is an agent of pruning. It allows other things (including the fight for justice) to grow and progress. When I find the ability to forgive, I open avenues otherwise blocked, solutions otherwise unseen.

Forgiveness is a kind of death. Which we really don’t like because we do not want to put our grievances to bed. But only in the dying can there be a resurrection. And that is what so many of us really need. A new way of thinking. A new way of perceiving. A renewed commitment to truth and love.

Forgiveness is the first step.

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