Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What I Know About Forgiveness

Forgiveness. Google that and you'll find 56,200,000 results. It is no wonder so many are asking "how" to forgive and what does forgiveness entail; maybe the answer lies with the individual. Recently, I found myself in a discussion, once again, on how does one forgive. This question was presented by a friend of mine suffering to forgive her father for molesting her as a child. I was compelled to share my experience with forgiveness. Although, I think forgiveness is different for everyone in each situation just as each loss results in a different expression of grief. I can only speak from my experience and reflection. I don't know for sure if this helped her or not, but I sure do hope so.

I had a lot to forgive when I forgave the man who murdered my sister, an incomprehensible atrocity. I was fortunate in the sense that forgiveness came easy for me. (Note that I said that I was fortunate. Forgiveness is about saving oneself from further infliction of pain and bitterness.) I was angry, of course. My heart kept saying to me that there is no way my sister could have loved an evil person; her heart was good. When I recalled the folks who had caused me considerable pain in the past, I was able to realize that they too were victims before they were perpetrators. Perhaps some of us have the capacity to evolve to the place of growth and good, despite the wrongs done to us, and others just simply don't. I'm willing to accept that; we are all imperfect beings. They, instead, repeat, perhaps in an attempt to understand, the ugly that was thrown on them. They are still very much victims though. This man who murdered my lovely sister was a victim once of hate who never learned to love himself in spite of it and therefore expressed hate outwardly in his weakest moments. I haven't, by any means, released him of his responsibility. I don't think, as some religions teach, that forgiveness means forgetting. I did, on the other hand, ask the judge to consider something more rehabilitative than a jail sentence. This was ignored. This is total forgiveness. I'm lucky to have been blessed with this capacity. I feel lucky.

I miss my sister like an image I can no longer see in the mirror. I can't blacken my love and memory of her with hate for the man who stole her life from me. I can't blacken my soul with hate for him. Freeing someone from blame equals freeing oneself from a life of agonizing suffering and remembering. I wanted my sis to continue to live within me with all the love and goodness possible, and without the hate that would be attached to her life and my memory of her if I held contempt for the thief who took her from me. And more...why continue to give someone who has committed a wrong a place in your life? If I couldn't forgive him, wouldn't some part of me be just like him?

I have been able to feel a sense of peace and compassion for lesser transgressions since this huge act of forgiveness. My spirit and heart soar with the freedom to love everyone, because of this small gift I gave myself of forgiving another. I am free.


  1. Thank you so much for your post. I really admire your strength in forgiving the man who murdered your sister. I agree with you that forgiveness is difficult to both define and achieve, but it can be so freeing once you do. I just finished a book that I think you might enjoy, called "Forgiving the Unforgivable" by Master Charles Cannon (http://forgivingtheunforgivable.com/). He survived the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks and has come to be able to forgive the people behind them. I think his message really resonates with your story! Thanks, Tiffany

    1. Thank you Tiffany for your support. Forgiveness is choosing freedom from the ugly pain--a gift to oneself. I'll check out the book. Thanks for sharing.