Now that Thanksgiving Day is over here in America I thought I would write a few words about something that I am very thankful for, and that is forgiveness. To me the only thing that is greater than forgiveness is love, but then forgiving is a handmaiden to love and one of its most valuable attributes.
Some people think that when you forgive someone you are forgetting what they did to wrong you, but that’s not true. No amount of effort or good intent can really make you forget what was done to you, but when you forgive someone you are choosing to ignore what they did; you are choosing to not hold their wrongdoing against them.
Something that I learned a long time ago is that when you are seeking forgiveness, whether it is from God or anyone else, you are trying to make amends for what you did; you are trying to make it right. A number of years ago I put myself in a 12 step program to get rid of some unnecessary baggage in my life, and one of the steps was to make amends for the wrongs that I’d committed against the people in my life. One of the things that I was taught, though, is that while you should sincerely try to make amends for what you did, there will be times when you just can’t make it right, and that you should always be prepared for that possibility. We cannot always make right what we did to hurt someone, but we should always try.
Another thing that I learned about forgiving is that while it is hard enough to forgive someone else for what they did, sometimes it is much harder to forgive myself. There are a lot of times when we cannot get out of our minds what we did to hurt someone else, and that can lead to not forgiving ourselves. But as was pointed out to me, if God or another person can forgive us then who are we to not forgive ourselves for the very same thing? We need to be able to forgive ourselves for those things that we have been forgiven for, as hard as it can be at times. There are many things that I have forgiven others for, but there have been many times when it was a lot harder and took a lot longer for me to forgive myself. It’s something that God and I are still working on…
So as we enter this holiday season I am grateful that I am able to forgive, but I am even more grateful for the forgiveness that I have been shown, both by God and by others in my life. Without forgiveness none of us would get very far in this world or the next, and I will always be grateful that forgiving and being forgiven is given to us.