Friday, February 03, 2012
Is Forgiveness What We Feel?
I have spent years trying to figure out how to forgive a wrong I just can’t forget. I have tried putting myself in the other’s shoes, but when you can’t understand them, this doesn’t work. I have tried just pretending I had forgiven (fake it ‘til you make it), but I’m not that good at self-deceit. For many years I had such internal fog when it came to those days, that event, that I couldn’t even discern coherent thoughts, much less conjure up the virtuous spirit that would allow me to look beyond my experience, my pain, and forgive. I had spent years in church being told why one forgives, but no one had ever told me how. How? how could I forgive someone when the mention of their name still stabbed like a knife? What does forgiveness even mean when your heart just won’t cooperate and you can’t let go?I am reminded on C.S. Lewis' section in Mere Christianity on "Forgiveness" and "Charity,"
I still don’t know the answer. All I know is that I don’t feel that way anymore.
For a good many people imagine that forgiving your enemies means making out that they are really not such bad fellows after all, when it is quite plain that they are.You have to DO forgiveness, not feel it.
But Love, in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion. It is a state not of the feelings but of the will;
Which brings me to my question. I can certainly be prepared to forgive someone, but since it must be DONE, how can it occur unilaterally? This has always baffled me, grudges no, wishing ill, no, but forgiveness is action; action that requires the participation of the other. Until forgiveness is accepted, which means accepting we did something wrong, it is but offered it is not complete.