This is my last week of study on forgiveness. I am in a place where I can move forward in my journey of forgiveness--and it is a journey. "Everything [about forgiveness] depends on the spirit we bring to the act." (p. 71) We can't expect to feel good about forgiving someone, unless we mean it. And we can't really forgive someone unless we do it for the right reasons and in the right way. Forgiveness is not cheap grace.
One of the most important lessons for me on my journey is this: The "great benefit in being able to forgive [is that] it releases us from carrying the corrosive effects of anger and bitterness in our own souls and peace of soul is not an insignificant matter. Forgiveness also empowers us allowing us to reassert our choice to become whole instead of merely accepting the diminishment of our wounds." (p.75) Those are some powerful words. I found a new way to look at forgiveness over the last several weeks, even in the face of forgiveness without reconciliation or forgiveness without acknowledgment of wrongdoing. I can CHOOSE peace of soul over a life of diminished outlook. I make that choice. What is done to me doesn't make that choice for me.
The following quote slayed me when I read it and the words have stayed with me over several days now. Lewis Smedes wrote, "Only a free person can live with an uneven score." Am I free enough to live a life of true forgiveness, ready to reconcile if and when that moment comes with every person? Jesus showed us the most uneven score of all--his personal sacrifice for all who came before and after Him. His choice to accept "the power of transformation and promise of God's redemption for the other person" (p. 76) illumines a way of grace that puts me at a loss for words. It's time fore me to hear the call. How free can I be?
Quoted material comes from Thompson, Marjorie J. Companions in Christ, the Way of Forgiveness. August, 2002, pp. 71-76.