Penetrating the Circle

I am working on forgiveness.

I confess I do not know what this means when it comes to the big stuff. In my life, this is the stuff that has been most painful to look in the face. It is the stuff that makes me walk around like a scared and abuse-ridden dog, still waiting for the next beating that will surely come when I least expect it. It is what keeps me jailed to the ground, far from free and childlike joy.

Most of you know whom this concerns.

In three years’ time, I have still not uttered the words, if even in my head, “I forgive you for what you've done, and for all the things that have happened.” I just cannot bring myself to do it.

I am very aware of this fact.

The truth is, I don’t know what it means to do it. I’m afraid it means letting the person off the hook, which is not okay. I’m afraid it means saying it’s fine it ever happened, which it isn’t. I’m afraid, even worse, it means forgetting it ever happened, which I can’t imagine could ever be a good thing. Wouldn’t that eradicate all the beautiful things I’ve learned and received, too, directly or indirectly as a result?

Someone recently told me that you can only pave the way for forgiveness if you identify what needs to be forgiven. This means moving beyond the ambiguous, formless, and colorless space of generalized memories into the actual memories themselves. It means picking them up, entering back into them, and remembering what your soul felt in that exact moment. (Or, if you’re like me, giving yourself permission to feel those feelings for the very first time.) It also means identifying the messages you ingested as a result, so you can begin directing those messages by way of the Truth. Then it means setting that memory back down, eventually, in new forgiveness.

This probably has to happen more than once.

It has been almost three weeks since I received that person’s words and agreed to give it a try. I’ve been walking around that 10-year circle of my life ever since -- walking around it, mind you, not into it. Circling it like a wary and cautious animal. Sometimes, I confess, walking away from it completely.

But here I am, on this Sunday sabbath morning, finally brave enough to begin. I think.

Come, Lord Jesus, come. Save and rescue me. Conform me ever more into Your likeness. And protect me from this storm of fear and pain. I love and ever trust You, Lord. Amen.