My post "Hard Forgiveness" has raised a number of issues both on this Blog and privately through people who e-mailed me or discussed it with me having read it.
I feel there are a few points worth considering here.
First of all, we are humans. We can't help it ... that's the way we are, the way God made us, with a multitude of various emotions, fears, hopes and ways of interpreting many situations in our lives. We're complex creatures. He had His reasons to create us this way.
Being human ... one of our first instincts is to protect ourselves and the ones we love. Another feature of our humanity is the ability to remember ... the good times, but more specifically the bad times. The worst they are, the more terrible they've been, the more they are imprinted in our memories. Anything can and will trigger these memories again ... visiting a place, seeing a photo, hearing a particular song ... anything ... and the bad memories come flooding back again. That's the price we pay for being human.
Christ said: "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who hurt us ..."
Thank God that He does not hold us to the strict letter of this particular contract; otherwise we'd all be taking the fastest elevator going down!
Yet ... He does hold us to the intent of that particular contract we recite in the Lord's Prayer.
He asks us to forgive ... that's the important thing. Not just seven times but seventy times seven … and many times more than that as well.
Forgiving someone means that we no longer hold a grudge, or any ill-will or ill-feelings towards them or the hurt they have caused us. We let them go in peace free of fear of any revenge or retribution on our part. This applies whether we tell them that they are forgiven, or whether they have moved away, or perhaps never asked or sought our forgiveness, and perhaps they don’t even care about our feelings.
What matters is that in our hearts we have truly forgiven them … and, here’s the difficult bit, … we can prove it to God should He ask us to.
Of course the memories will come back … we can’t help that. But let’s use them positively by forgiving once again. Let’ us use them as a reminder to pray for the ones who hurt us. Let us say to God : “Please look after that person … Enlighten them and lead them to find your love as I have found it too …” Would it not be wonderful if as a result of your hurt … and your prayers … someone finds God, perhaps for the first time.
Christ has His memories too when He sees the scars in His hands, feet and side. I believe He uses these memories to forgive us yet again.
Having truly forgiven, it is our right and duty to keep our distance from that person if we feel they create a threat to us or our loved ones. Keeping our distance is NOT a sin, and it does not mean that we haven’t forgiven or that our forgiveness is worthless.
Being human we can only forgive as humans. We cannot possibly forgive as He has forgiven, no matter how hard we try.
He was human, but He was/is God too … and that’s a level of forgiveness we can never achieve.
We can only hope to live by the intent of that particular contract in the Lord’s Prayer.