(A friend wrote to me and ask about forgiveness and what my thoughts were. It got me to writing. I think this might be a good and helpful practice for you as well. What do you think about forgiveness? What words would you say about it?)
Forgiveness is one of our "life lessons," and one that maybe takes us that long to figure out. My experience is that forgiveness is a sister to grace. They walk side-by-side.
I've learned that forgiveness is `my work to do.' The wrong has happened. It can't be undone. What we choose to carry with us from past that event is the weight and the burden. With time, I've come to understand that forgiveness is for us as much as the one we forgive. It allows us to put the weight down. It allows us to turn from that moment of pain and move away from it, toward something else.
Forgiveness can teach us about mercy, it can teach us about compassion, it can teach us about grace. We can learn that we are more than one event. We can learn that relationships are greater than that one event. We can learn that God is even bigger than all of that.
I'm sorry for the hurt that you have experienced, that brings you to this wondering. I believe that God has been with you every step of the way. And I believe that light is greater than darkness and love is greater than fear, greater than our pain. It has to be.
There is the notion of this event being in past ~ and that unless you choose to go through life in a rowboat (I'd prefer at least a houseboat, if not a sailboat), then it's up to you to choose.
His actions are his. Yours are yours. What happens next is about your actions, NOT his actions directing yours. Someone used the phrase "directing the movie you are starring in," and I think that's true. He is directing a movie of despair and violence. Not one you'd buy a ticket for or want to sit through.
Watch your own movie. Direct your own actions. Live your life ~ not through his direction or participation.
This doesn't mean you aren't truthful with the folks around you. Move on but if conversation is initiated, I encourage you to be honest about the details of the event. How you choose not to encounter him again. Light needs to come into this dark place.
You are NOT stuck in quicksand. Your life is MUCH bigger. His actions created an incredible amount of work for you, but it's now behind you. In your rearview mirror. Your windshield (driving forward) is MUCH bigger, much more interesting and will bring you life. The rearview mirror-driving will make your journey much slower and smaller. Peace to you and your family. May you remember that you are loved, truly love for seeing life in the midst of despair and hardship. Take good care, Lesley
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. A Candler School of Theology graduate, Lesley has just published her second book, Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon for 29 Days (available on this website). She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan and Sam in Decatur, GA.