Forgiveness is a heavy load. Let's be honest. Long before forgiveness occurs the burden has been hauled around for months, if not years, probably decades. It piles up like mold under walls, lingers like smoke accumulating in a small town bar. It can't be washed out in just one super soak. The stench roots in the fibers, deep with the fabric's weave where it sits closest to the skin. Even if forgiveness is the next necessary step, pulling the proverbial trigger is not a simple act. It leads to a devilish debate of who is worthy, who has weathered the fight, who is willing to let go of pride.
I've had to do a lot soul searching this year. Do I forgive the hit and run driver who nearly killed my husband? What if the aortic aneurism had taken my Dad's life when so much had been left unsaid? And reconciling with God over the loss of a grandchild while watching my daughter suffer through yet another tragic event in a year full of insanity. Some would say this past year was horrible for my family, but I would say it has been full of blessings. Three amazing people are doing well today and I can tell them every day how much I appreciate having them in my life; a feeling so amazing that granting forgiveness was an easy decision to reach in the preceding cases. But when forgiveness reaches deep into past transgressions, the ones so vile they've taken on a life of their own, well those are a bit more tricky.
With so many life and death struggles taking center stage in my year I was struck with a sudden fearful realization: What if the people I need to forgive die before I can release them? Seems rather ego-centric, I suppose, but the reality of forgiving is that it is a gift one gives to oneself. Holding back forgiveness is like holding your breath in a childish contest of endurance. You are the one who cannot breathe. You are the one turning purple. You are the one putting yourself on hold while others breathe easy. To forgive is to live without anything to prove to someone who's not watching anyway. It's that first big rush of air taken in once you realize the contest is a ridiculous waste of time and decide to breathe again. I know this because today I forgave someone whose acts have held me captive in my own soul.
Today, I released this person from the hold I gave him on my life, and in doing so found a peace unlike anything I've ever known. My greatest fear in forgiving was the possibility this person would minimize my battle. After all, I had emotionally granted this person unlimited power over my emotions, decisions, and my opinions. If he were to say that all I feared was unreal, or to deny his part in my hurt, I would be left with a bag full of ghosts. Moving forward without closure is the risk in forgiving. But the reward outweighs this risk. And sometimes the unthinkable happens: the other person needs this resolution as well.