My husband and I have been watching the BBC series “Father Brown.” I have been struck with the many scenes about confession and forgiveness. Father Brown makes completely clear that there is no forgiveness if there is not true regret and a desire to change. That is the view for the person who needs forgiveness. There is also the side of the injured. What is forgiveness from that point of view?
Forgiveness can be a difficult thing. If someone has hurt us badly we can have so many different emotions…anger, pain, hurt, disappointment, betrayal and others. Our emotions may swing from one feeling to another. Forgiveness may be the last thing we think about. Maybe we don’t even want to forgive for to do that we would have to let it all go.
The important thing to remember about forgiveness is that it is not just for the person who hurt us but for us as well. All the emotions that we are feeling heighten our body in a flight or fight mode. We secrete extra adrenaline causing our body to prepare for danger. When we think about the hurt we drag up those emotions again and again. You can feel the upheaval. If we continue to hang on to the hurt and drag it around with us it damages our well being. Somehow we have to find a way to let it go.
Letting it go may take time and conscious effort. Some of the hurts I have encountered in my life have hung on for quite a while. We have to consciously decide to turn it loose…. and do it again and again until those feelings subside. When we can remember the hurt without the emotions attached then we have truly let it go. There may always be a small residue like ashes left after burning paper but the real pain has subsided.
Forgiveness takes work.