Forgiveness Is Not Easy

"Often when we are suffering from loss or harm of some kind, forgiving can seem too overwhelming, too complicated, to even consider. How do we forgive if there has been no apology or explanation for why someone has hurt us so? How do we think of forgiving when we feel the person has not done anything to 'deserve' our forgiveness? Where do we even start?

"The work of forgiveness is not easy. Perhaps you have already tried to forgive someone and just couldn't do it. Perhaps you have forgiven and the person did not show remorse or change his or her behavior or own up to his or her offenses — and you find yourself unforgiving all over again.

"Forgiveness is not an effortless act for any of us, and it does not serve anyone to minimize the complexity involved in the work of forgiving. It is best to break our forgiving down into bite-size pieces, and begin from wherever we are standing. Tell your story for as long as you need to. Name your hurts until they no longer pierce your heart. Grant forgiveness when you are ready to let go of a past that cannot be changed. Reconcile or release the relationship as you choose.

"Forgiving is not easy, but it is the path to healing. It was not easy for Nelson Mandela to spend twenty-seven years in prison, but when people say to me what a waste it was, I say no, it was not a waste. It took twenty-seven years for him to be transformed from an angry, unforgiving young radical into an icon of reconciliation, forgiveness, and honor who could go on to lead a country back from the brink of civil war and self-destruction.

"Our suffering, our pain, and our losses have the power to transform us. It does not always feel just, nor is it easy, but we have seen that, with time, great good can come from great sorrow. . . .

"Let us pause to listen to what the heart hears.

"God forgives unconditionally
So can we
The thief on the cross still dies on his cross
But forgiveness will set his spirit free
And what of you and me standing on the ground with our piles of hurts mounting so high
Will we die a thousand deaths before we die?
Yearning for revenge, will we die of that thirst?
Will the rage that fills us be the stake on which we burn?
Will we stumble over every resistance placed in our way?
And stay stuck in the misery of it all?
Or will we take the chance that we might break free by following this path where it leads
Past the whys and lies about how it cannot be
Here is our chance
Take this chance
Break free"