For years I tried to bury the hurt and brush off the damage she’d caused. After all, her own childhood was abusive.
Yet under all my dismissiveness (wrapped in a pretty package of so-called forgiveness) was a deep, festering wound of abiding pain and anger.
My error wasn’t in thinking I should forgive, but in misunderstanding the real meaning and extent of forgiveness.
I wanted it to be quick, once-and-done—it felt easier to minimize the pain and run from the feelings. Yet in running, it pursued me. In slapping a Band-aid on the wound and trying to ignore it, I learned that the infection kept surfacing in new and destructive ways.
Real and total forgiveness, on the other hand, begins with acknowledging the full depth and breadth of our wounds, the totality of mourning and grief.
Our Lord commands us to forgive, yet He didn’t minimize His agony in the garden or Passion and death. He models how we must acknowledge the entirety of our suffering, and invite the Divine Physician into every step of the process.
When we do so, He slowly fills our hearts with new understanding. We see that the wounds inflicted upon us are born from others’ deep poverty and wounds—and the real enemy is Satan who loves to keep us trapped in a cycle of inflicting pain upon each other and perpetuating resentment.
Real forgiveness breaks that cycle, letting God transform bitterness and hurt into desperately-needed intercession—seventy times seven—for the wounded souls who have wounded us. Whether this forgiveness leads to restored relationships or draws healthy new boundaries, we find that instead of running from the suffering, we can be redeemed through it—and given the chance to help Our Lord redeem others, too.
Even if we’re too weak to forgive on our own, we can pray as Christ did from His torturous Cross: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Always, waiting on the other side of our cross, is new life and resurrection.
Real forgiveness breaks that cycle, letting God transform bitterness and hurt into desperately-needed intercession—seventy times seven—for the wounded souls who have wounded us. // @megan_hjelmstadClick to tweet