I pride myself in being a good Catholic. I go to church regularly. I know my faith and understand the Church's teachings. And all those things that I don't understand, I consider future lessons. Someday I will comprehend. So, you know that I know that we are supposed to forgive not once or twice, but 7 times 70 (in good math, that's about 490 times). And before you try to give me a lecture in that Jesus didn't actually mean we are only supposed to forgive 490 times, but rather infinitely, I know that already. Trust me. I know.
But this is one of the lessons that I think I need help in. Can you actually forgive everyone who does harm to you or your loved ones? I mean, really forgive and forget? If so, how do you do that? It's not that I haven't forgiven. Oh, I have and I can honestly say, cross my heart hope to die, that I have forgotten many wrongdoings as well. I have also asked for forgiveness many, many times. I'm Catholic. Guilt is part of my faith (just joking), so asking for pardon comes as second-nature to me. But this is where my issue lies.
Can a rape victim forgive her rapist? Can a mother forgive the murderer that killed her child? Can a child forgive the parent that physically and emotionally abused her? Can a wife forgive the man that abandoned her with their three kids? I've always wondered. Can they really forgive them? I haven't personally experienced hurts as big as these. But I have been hurt. And I don't think I've always been able to forgive everyone that has hurt me. You see, I have a problem forgiving someone who doesn't change his/her ways or who doesn't show any sign of remorse. Seeing someone like this day in and day out, continuing with the attitudes or the actions that have caused others harm, and forgiving them is practically impossible for me. I don't know how people can do it.
So, for the past year or so, I have been struggling with this question. How do you forgive someone who wrongs you and shows no sign of repentance or remorse? As I tried to figure this out, the hours turned into days, weeks and months. And no answer seemed clear. The one person I could go to on this issue has recently passed away and so I finally turned to God and said "Are you messing with me? How the heck am I supposed to do this?". You may laugh but He and I have this kind of relationship. I can't tell you that I heard a voice talking to me or a vision of a light, but I know in my heart what His response was. "Give me this burden. And I will ease your load."
I think that, eventually, as the hurt eases, it becomes easier to forgive. Forgiveness is more for the person doing the forgiving than for the offender. It allows us to free our hearts from bitterness and heal our wounds. I am far from sainthood, that's for sure. And we all have those stumbling blocks that we need to overcome to become better human beings. This is mine. I'm hoping that someday forgiveness comes easier for me. But, in the meantime, as I try to understand, I have come to terms with the fact that this is one of my greatest limitations. You can be sure that if I figure this one out, I will blog about it.
Written by: Carmen D Rivera-Gomez Edited by: Glenda J. Ayala
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