Why Bother Mentioning Forgiveness?
To forgive is to excuse, pardon, remit, or cancel a wrong or a wrongdoer. Forgive is a verb, an action that we take. Forgiving is something we do. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is an abstract noun. Unlike a concrete noun, forgiveness is a notion, an idea rather than an object that we can touch. Yet, in my opinion, forgiveness, like love, kindness, or charity, is a gift that can be given to ourselves and to others. Forgiveness is a gift unlike any other. Even if it is not received, the giver benefits.
One of the drawbacks in committing to the task of personal healing was that I never knew what would bob to the surface. For me it was resentment. In my journey toward healing, I became acutely aware of the grudge I’d harbored against my dad. The grievance was old, and ingrained deeply into my core thinking. Holding on to my ill will was natural. It was a normal stream of thought. I’d believed that my dad was responsible for my unhappiness. After all, if he’d not left me, my life would have turned out so much better.
But, holding grudges never makes us better; they only make us bitter. But, since I was motivated to become mentally well, it did not take long for me to understand what action I needed to take. I knew I needed to forgive my dad.
Wondering about forgiving someone who was already dead and gone, I called a friend with a background in counseling. I needed to know, was this idea of forgiveness legitimate or crazy? She assured me that my thought was not an absurd one and was indeed warranted and allowable.
So, I went forward with the action of forgiveness. Even though I knew a dead man could not reciprocate, accept or respond to the gift of forgiveness, I did it anyway.
As a kid, I used to walk to the cemetery just to sit by my dad’s grave to try and sense his presence. I always left disappointed, because I never felt anything. But, forgiving my dad was an altogether different experience. Forgiveness released me from the encumbering weight of a heavy old grudge. It was a transforming act.
Why bother mentioning forgiveness? Though everyone is capable of forgiving, not everyone is receptive to forgiveness. But, that is okay. The act of forgiving may just be a gift to ourselves.