On January 5th I offered a post titled The List. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you may want to do so before continuing with this one.
The List is about an exercise that you may use to free yourself from the pain of being hurt by others and the guilt of causing hurt in others. It certainly was a great help to me when I began this spiritual walk a couple of years ago.
In response to the post Linda wrote “….which, for me, is proving difficult. The list is short, but the names are those whom I love the most. I can and have forgiven them, but am powerless to change the circumstances that led to their names being on the list. Where do I go from here?”
Great question, one that I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer….I’ll gladly give you my opinion; take what you want and leave the rest…..
There are several facets, or dimensions, to Linda’s question, and I’m gonna try to address all of them.
Linda wrote that while she was able to forgive those that hurt her, she couldn’t forget the circumstances that led to the hurt. It would be easy for me to throw the old Cliché forgive and forget at you right now, but that would just be a bunch of hooey! I don’t think it works like that; never have.
Funny thing about our memory….it remembers things! And we don’t want to change that. If we had the ability to flush memories from our minds at will, we might inadvertently dispose of a memory that is near and dear to us, like one of those “epiphanies” that I’ve written about before. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to run the risk of forgetting any of my “Kodak Moments” in exchange for erasing the memory of some bad ones! Also, if you’ve ever known someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, you are aware that both the individual and their loved ones would like for them to remember anything, good or bad.
It’s easier to forgive someone that you love for a wrongdoing than it is to forgive a friend for the same offense, just as it is easier to forgive that friend than a complete stranger.
I believe that we don’t ever truly forget events that cause us pain; they are burned indelibly into our minds. We can’t roll back the clock and “undo” them. We can try to pretend that they never happened (our minds know better), but by and large, we can’t forget ‘em.
What we can do is learn from them. I believe that every “circumstance” that has caused me pain, in my entire life, has been a part of God’s plan for me. Some of these lessons have come from the minds, mouths, and hands of other people; in many instances, these were people that I loved or admired. They caused hurt; deep hurt. Hurt that I still remember, but strangely enough, don’t feel any more. The List didn’t allow me to let go of the memories; it allowed me to let go of the pain.
You’re going to have to bear with me on this; I’ve mentioned to you before that in offering you my thoughts, I learn more about myself….I’m having one of those moments now.
I’ve told you before that everything I do in life, every move I make, every step I take, points back to God. I don’t know if this “happened” the day I got my tattoo, or if it was a shift in my thinking over the past two years, or if there was a “moment” of commitment to Him. I guess it doesn’t really matter. What matters is this:
I know (because there are some things in life that you just know) that God has forgiven me for figuratively slapping Him in the face, time after time after time during my fifty-six years on this earth. Offenses directly against Him. Offenses against Him through what I’ve done to others. Offenses against Him for what I’ve done to myself. My list of offenses is probably ten times longer than the list of people that I put together. And He forgave me for every one of those offenses. How do I know that? Because the God that I love is all-forgiving….I mean, come on! He forgave the men who nailed His Son to the cross….He GAVE His Son to us knowing what was going to happen. What greater love can there be than that?
I believe that God has forgiven me for my offenses because I asked for His forgiveness. No matter how small, or how large, the offense, He has forgiven me. I believe this with all that is in me. In turn, what has someone done to me, what could someone do to me, that would be any worse than He forgave us for?
I believe that God has a plan for me; this plan has been designed exclusively for me, and for no one else. I’ve finally come to realize that while I have a hand in shaping my destiny, He already knows the end result. I trust that He knows what’s best for me, and that whatever He gives me, good and bad, is for a reason; His reason.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this:
If you will “let go and let God”, He will give you the strength to let go.
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