Thursday, April 23, 2009

. . . and I have to wake up and forgive again.

"I guess I have forgiven myself. Although sometimes in the night my dreams will take me back to sadness, and I have to wake up and forgive again. But Mary is always there. I feel her at unexpected moments. She will suddenly rise, and when she does, she does not go up into the sky, but further inside of me."
- The Secret Life of Bees

I just finished watching this movie. The main character writes this at the end, and I found it really beautiful. If you have not seen it, first, I suggest you do, and second, I'm sure the quote will make no sense, but it inspired me in two different ways. Only the first will be explored tonight. :)

I too have learned a few lessons in forgiveness in my life. And though I have healed and forgiven, my dreams sometimes take me back, "and I have to wake up and forgive again." What a beautiful thought. . . .

In my study of grief throughout my college days, I learned both from the books and my own life experience that healing and forgiveness are not one time things. Forgiveness, healing, growth . . . they're not doors we pass through or lines we cross, they're journeys that may be long or short, a walk in the park or a hike up a mountain. We go through the cycle over and over, healing more and more each time. Much like sending your clothes many times through the washer's cycles, getting a little cleaner each time; like applying ointment to a wound as it slowly heals. forgiveness, healing is a process.

What is the ointment to be applied? I discussed recently with a friend what it takes to truly forgive. And as I contemplated the point in which one can truly say the journey of forgiveness has been completed, I realized that only recently I had reached that point with someone from my past, someone that I had been hurt by. Though I had been "over" what had happened years ago, I had not put much of an effort into acknowledging the person, or showing any love. This past week was the first time I had talked to them in quite a while, and I was truly happy for their happiness and able to give love. As I contemplated the situation yesterday, I concluded that I had built up resentment due to my feeling entitled from being hurt. It was not until last week that I truly forgave. I realized that until one can truly love that person, truly want the best for them, truly be happy for them (regardless of how that person feels about what happened), the journey of forgiveness has not yet been completed. Love is the ointment that heals the wound.

I'm understanding (even as I type) in a new and unexpected way the love that Christ has for His Church. The love of the Cross. I started one of my own journeys of forgiveness just over 2 years ago, during Holy week. And as my heart broke I remember tears falling as I prayed, "Jesus, I've never felt more like I was on the Cross with you than I do right now. And yet, it is nothing in comparison. You felt this same heartache, but you felt it multiplied for each person on this earth, multiplied by each time they have turned away and hurt you."

Each time I hurt my Lord, each time I choose other things over Him, he feels that same heartache. And yet, he still loves me selflessly, truly desiring the best for me, absolutely no resentment. Jesus is the most beautiful example of forgiveness. He is our litmus test. Are we willing to die for the person that hurt us so badly? . . . If not, our journey of forgiveness is not yet complete.

"All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us . . ."
Ephesians 4:31-5:2