A Lesson In Forgiveness

Just over a month ago I received a message from a guy that I kind-of knew in High School.  I graduated with him over 7 years ago, but it took me a couple of moments (and a look through my old Senior Yearbook) to remember who he was.  What shocked me the most was his honesty, humility and humbleness to say the words that he said.

I’m not going to post the entire message due to confidentiality and usage of language, but it went as follows:

Hey, I don’t know if you remember me or not, but I was a mega prick to you back in high school.  I just wanted to message you and say that I am really sorry for how I treated you.  I was a major [edited].  I stumbled across you page … and remember how [edited] I was and feel terrible about it.  I’m glad to see that it looks like you’ve moved on to bigger and better things.  Again, I’m sorry.

I read it, and read it again.  And again.  And it took me some time to find the words to respond.

One of the hardest things in life is to admit when you were or are wrong and to acknowledge that you have hurt people through your words, actions, and/or lack there of.  It’s even harder to confront those same individuals and let them know how much it gnaws at your very soul.

To be completely honest, I no longer remember how this guy treated me all those years ago, but I could tell that something was eating away at him, compelling him to share his thoughts and let me know that he was truly sorry for how he treated me (if he wasn’t, I feel that he would have never sent me that message).

Jesus makes it seem so easy through the Gospels every time he lets people know that they are forgiven.  It’s a concept that our society has forgotten, but we seek with all our heart.

When I told him that I had accepted his apology and that I forgave him, I let him know that I was truly thankful for his honesty and humility to come forth.  But at the same time, I urged him to forgive himself, to let go of everything that he was sorry for, because that was so much more important in the long run.

When someone forgives us, they release us from the chains of our sins, wrong-doings, guilt, etc. but the hardest part is letting go ourselves.

Many years ago I hurt someone very close to me through both my words and my inability to act in a way that would help heal the wounds that I helped to create.  As time passed by, we once again found ourselves together as friends.  While this individual let me know that they had forgiven me for the words that were exchanged and the actions that followed, I have never been able to truly forgive myself for the things that I did (and didn’t do).

It’s been years since this incident and we are still good friends to this day, but the simple fact that I have not been able to truly let go has continued to haunt me even to this day.  It’s like I’m still holding onto the chains, even though the shackles are no longer around my wrists.

We cannot go through life holding onto all the things that we have regretted.  If we do, we will find ourselves unable to keep ourselves afloat as the weight of our guilt drags us down.  By admitting we are wrong and letting go of the things that we have done in the past, we free ourselves to learn from our mistakes and to begin the process of healing within ourselves.

This doesn’t mean that we forget, or that we will no longer bear the scars, but it is an acceptance of understanding that all those things we have forgiven within ourselves (be it words, silence, actions, or the inability to act when we knew we should have) have helped to shape us into who we have become.

In time, the scars and memories will fade, but they will always remain a part of who we are as an individual.

God Bless and PEACE

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