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Forgiveness is a decision
Monday, March 19, 2012
by Fr. Tom Balluff, St. Mary of Czestochowa Church, Delano

We are now well into the season of Lent. I would like to give some helpful insights as to how the process of forgiveness can happen well.

Healing and conversion are critical to a healthy spiritual life. Letting go of past or present resentments, grudges, hurt, and pain will allow us to once again enjoy life.

Here are some good ways that we can allow God’s unconditional love to enter into our hearts, and then to share that love with our families, friends, and neighbors, and especially with those we have the most difficult time.

First of all, let me begin with common questions on forgiveness. How do I forgive? How can I forgive you again? How could you do that to me? How can I trust you again? What if some hurts are too great to forgive? What if this person doesn’t want/ask for my forgiveness? It’s hard to say I’m sorry.

True forgiveness is a decision – it is unconditional! It is showing mercy even when the act was deliberate. It is accepting the other person where they are at. It is taking a risk to get hurt again – and choosing to love. It is accepting an apology graciously.

When people don’t forgive, they are led by anger, pain, and hatred. They are directed by negative memories, and do not act freely. They keep a controlling grasp on situations and people. They are pressured by lives of tension and stress, and probably shorten their lives.

When people don’t forgive, their relationships with others are strained. Their relationship with God is weakened. They live with feelings of little self-worth, and feel unrelieved guilt.

Sometimes, one might choose to act as if the hurt never occurred, offering “false” forgiveness. One might smile as though they never were hurt; or one might act as if “it” never happened. False forgiveness is really a denial of anger.

There are many ways most of us operate around the struggle between letting go, forgiving, and loving well, and the struggle of holding onto the hurt and pain, and trying to make the person who hurt us pay for it.

The desire is for true forgiveness to become a way of life. If we can learn how to become experts at forgiving one another, our lives will become very enjoyable.

During Lent, let us imitate the deep love God has for each one of us, by putting these helpful insights to work in our lives, offering true forgiveness to others.