I sat around a table Saturday morning at our monthly woman’s group gathering and we were going around the table sharing when someone spoke up and asked a question that has been with me since.
“What is forgiveness anyway?” (or something to that effect).
We ping ponged back and forth sharing our experience of it and on we went.
But it hasn’t left me. No. Not one bit.
Last night the Hunger Games was on TV so while in the kitchen making dinner, I had it on. Katniss had just volunteered herself as tribute in her sisters place and Peeta had just walked up on the platform. They were encouraged to shake hands and Katniss flashes back to a memory of living in District 12. It was a memory where she was hungry, wet and cold and sitting outside a bakery that Peeta’s family owned. He comes out with burnt loaves of bread and feeds them to the pigs. He sees her sitting in the rain and throws her one haphazardly like she is an animal too.
Flash forward. She shakes his hand begrudgingly.
Katniss has not forgiven.
That memory is shown again on the train as they travel towards the Capital. The reality that her and Peeta are on the same “team” keeps her going back to that cold, wet day. It is the memory of him she has lodged in her brain, the very memory of him that remains in her heart and keeps them working against one another instead of WITH one another.
It makes me think about forgiveness and how often I too have been like Katniss Everdeen, stubbornly replaying a bad memory in my head and in my heart when it comes to a particular person. Like a broken movie reel, I play it and then hit rewind, again and again. The more the memory is replayed, the more I add to it. The more not good feelings and thoughts are attached to what now is a very twisted scenario and I get offended all over again. Each and every time.
Rita Mae Brown once said, “One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.”
I could agree more.
I know from experience there is not a clear-cut definition of what forgiveness is. My sharing with you probably only touches a single aspect of it because it is multi-faceted and probably looks different for all of us. For me, I know whenever I refuse to stop propping my feet up in the back of some old movie cinema watching bad memories replay over and over, I take steps towards healing and healing always opens me up again to loving.
Jesus implored the Father on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” I really do think He was saying, “Father, LOVE them…”
And my heart opens up more easily when I am focused on moving forward. The past is the past. I can live there, in what happened or what was said but then I realize that I am not really living for one can only live in one moment at a time. If I choose to live THERE then I cannot live HERE. And here is where I want to live.
I am sure life has afforded you with opportunities to discover what forgiveness is to you. Probably as you read, someone has come to mind. Someone attached to a memory that constantly gets replayed in your head; a memory that holds you back from moving forward. Perhaps that person is YOU. I can’t tell you what to do to forgive. I believe it is a process and looks different overtime and is an act of our choosing and not a feeling. I have found that the more I choose to intentionally keep my heart open to being searched, the more acutely aware of how much I truly am loved. Unconditionally. I always have been and always will be. And if I have been loved like that as in, “Father, LOVE her for she knows not what she does…”
Surely I can do the same.
Round Table Discussion:
*What is your initial reaction to the concept of forgiveness? How do you feel about the whole idea of forgiveness as a necessity?
*What does forgiveness look like to you? How have you given it and how have you received it?
*What characteristics in your life might indicate that you haven’t fully forgiven past hurts, even if you know in your head what you need to do?