some thoughts on forgiveness and peace

I follow Elizabeth Gilbert on Twitter, and a few minutes ago, she wrote, “Truly, is there anything in the human experience more healing than forgiving someone, and being forgiven in return? #precious #rare #peace.”

My immediate reaction?  Man, she and I have way different feelings about forgiveness.  I’m not saying she’s wrong, exactly, just that my experience of forgiveness is anything BUT peaceful.

When I think of peace, I think of inactive and placid.  Calm.

For me, forgiveness is a long journey of choosing to move forward coupled with a constant rejection of all the crappy things I’ve been taught to be, do, think, and feel.  Eventually, whatever the relationship has become–it’s transformed into something else.  It’s not that I stop caring so much as the thing itself is a memory.  It’s not a barb.  To the point that, often, I find myself surprised by it.  Oftentimes, it takes me some some to mentally catch-up to myself.  Like, I’ll bump into someone who really hurt me and realize that they have zero power over me anymore.

Having it be peaceful implies that two entities had to agree on something.  But true forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person.  I think part of why I have such a problem with her description of forgiveness is because–well–if it’s really so healing, I’m still invested and connected.  Which means, I’m still hurting–which means–it’s not done.

When you’ve truly forgiven someone, their ability to forgive you really doesn’t mean much.  You’ve already made your peace.  You don’t need them to close the door.

That kind of forgiveness is pretty rare.  I find myself surprised by the people I haven’t forgiven.  But I can always tell by the physical memories it conjures.  I always shake when I encounter them.  That’s how I know I’m not done.

I’m happy to say, right now, my peace depends on no one except me.  It’s a good thing.

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