I don’t think it’s too much to say that I have–as is required of me–forgiven much in my day. By the same token, there’s much I may have done–deliberately or not–which requires a bit of forgiveness on the part of others. Whether or not they are up to the task isn’t my business, and sits far more squarely on the state of their own souls than it does on mine.
But I do know that C.S. Lewis has it pretty much right–today as always. (For my previous meditations on the great man’s thoughts on this issue, see here.)
We forgive, we mortify our resentment; a week later some chain of thought carries us back to the original offence and we discover the old resentment blazing away as if nothing had been done about it at all. We need to forgive our brother seventy times seven not only for 490 offences but for one offence.
Forgiveness–whether it’s for real transgressions, or even just for self-involved, imagined and closely-held slights, is hard. We think we’re on the path there, and suddenly, whoopsidaisy, something (a particular date–a particular event–a particular circumstance) oversets us, and we start hating all over again. And off we go:
“I hope you die!”
“I hope you and yours get whatever you deserve!”
“You’re the most despicable person the world has ever seen!”
“I hate you, and anyone who likes you, forever!”
Yeah. I doubt that any of those things, including your most recent and virulently-expressed thoughts, are actually real. Perhaps some of them stem–as many such things do–from projection, and from the sense that–just maybe–some of the awful things that have happened in our relationship stem from your own bad behavior, rather more than, or at least just as much as, from that of anyone else.
And so–because I love you, and because none of your current and vanishingly small crop of acolytes has the courage to tell you how utterly awful what you do is–I will tell you, and I will also say that I forgive you for them all.
Happy New Year.
And now, “Let us go forward together.”
Up to you.