The other day someone asked me about forgiveness. Have you forgiven the people in your life who have wronged you? And if so, how? That’s a great question. A holy priest once told me, “To forgive is to mirror the Divine.” After-all, that is what we are called to do as sons and daughters of the Father. We are asked, not forced, because God never forces, to be like Him. A challenge I’m sure you’re already aware of.
My journey towards forgiveness began in May 2009. I was in Denver, Colorado taking a week of graduate classes, when I first told myself, I want that. And I’m going to fight for it. Amidst tears, the professor teaching the class told us his exceedingly powerful testimony and then how he learned to forgive. He said that you must learn to forgive from your heart, because when you do that, it sets the other person (the one who has done the harm) free. Oftentimes, forgiveness involves forgiving several people, lastly, yourself. Which is not uncommonly deemed the most challenging. You must battle with countless thoughts, well surely if I had done or said something differently, so and so would have responded in a different manner. So, really I had this coming to me, it must be partially my fault. Or, if I was stronger and knew how to defend myself, no one would have hurt or taken advantage of me. So again, it really is my fault for not being tougher. Those are lies that you must cast out.
I learned to forgive from the One who has forgiven me. I basked in His Sacraments. I sat in His presence daily and asked for the grace. I still do, as forgiveness is a choice. Something else a Catholic doctor challenged me to do was to put myself in the shoes of the one who had done the wrong. Why do you think they did that? What was their upbringing like? Consider how much they must be hurting to have done what they did?
Now, does that take away the pain? No. Does that make you feel any better? No. Does that stop the tears from flowing? No. Is that what we are called to do? Yes!
Why? Because it’s what Christ would do. Think of the Beatitudes because they are the essence of the life of Christ. The poor in spirit, mourning, meekness, hunger and thirst, merciful, clean of heart, peacemakers, persecution, insult – they are all characteristics of Christ’s life. Look at the Cross, for that is what you are called to. Your reward – Eternal Life! A crown of glory as a Saint in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.