Over and over again I asked myself, “How can I ever forgive the man who shot me and killed my dear friend?” Finally, I discovered that asking for forgiveness and offering it would deepen my healing. It retrieved parts of me that were buried and abandoned, and it brought more of my authentic self to the table. I found that what forgiveness retrieved was my heart. It was like sandblasting away my armor.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we condone the injustices of the past or excuse behavior. It looks beyond this to a greater truth. It means that we don’t put another person out of our heart and the result of this is the blessing of a reunion with life.
In the end, it’s a compassionate letting go, for our sake as much as for the others. It’s like the meeting of two ex-prisoners of war when one is asked, “Have you forgiven your captors?” The other replied, “No, never!’ The first ex-prisoner looked with kindness at his friend and said, “Well, they still have you in prison, don’t they?”
Sometimes I think life unfolds as if we were being shown a slide show and each slide is a test. We are asked, “Can you forgive this?” If the answer is no, the slide is simply moved back for us to view again later.
We have judged ourselves and others for so long, carrying on our battle with the burdens of the past, with life itself. With forgiveness, though, we experience the heart’s mercy that our hurt and fear have long withheld. We recognize that all of us are doing the best that we can within the limits of our current beliefs and capacities.
At long last, we discover that forgiveness is “selective remembering”, a conscious decision to focus on love and let the rest go.