I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately -- what it means, and the role it plays in my freedom from the bondage of my past.
Lord knows, I have experienced enough at the hands of other people to be quite literally (and justifiably) miserable forever...hating them...blaming them for everything wrong in my life. Harping on everything taken from me and the life I could have had or the person I would be "if only."
It is my God given right to hold onto all the things I cannot change for as long as I wish — until my knuckles turn white and then purple and I lose feeling in my fists. No one can take that right away from me.
Strangely enough, I think that is what kept me holding on so tight for so long. That pain and those memories were MINE and at times all I could cling to. To some extend, they were who I was -- the broken doll -- the mess.
I was too afraid to let go of the pain and anger those memories provoked, out of fear I might not recognize myself without them.
Those experiences were my identity, and the reasons for my depression and angst. The excuses for why I was much too tired to live my life or take responsibility for mistakes I had made along the way.I thought if I forgave the past I might forget it, or that somehow forgiveness of it would mean those things were okay when they weren’t.
I couldn’t see that holding onto those things so tightly had no affect on those I refused to forgive. Those people are not thinking of me today, and my holding onto them, even just out of spite, gives them power over me in ways I don't appreciate or benefit from. That resentment grew into a cancer that almost killed me several times over.
It hasn't been easy to forgive all the things -- to invite the monsters under my bed to the light and view their connection to my strength and resilience.
The road to recovery is paved with forgiveness.
Because if I let those things ruin me I cannot be useful to others who need to know it’s possible to recover from them. If I'm in bed, fretting over everything that's happened, who and what failed me, and refusing to live the life I have because I have survived it all, they win. If I take time away from my incredible family and the love and purpose I have today to dwell in the darkness, I lose.
Forgiveness does not mean I have to forget what has happened, and it doesn't make the unacceptable acceptable. It just means I don’t have to allow those things to rob me of precious moments and the freedom and joy that comes after the storm.