I believe in the absolute struggle to forgiveness: The feelings of hatred, anger, resentment, and regret all coming to attention. The awful feeling in my stomach I experience when I try to comprehend all of the pain inflicted by another person; the questions of morality, friendship, fidelity and respect all surfacing; the intensity of truly accepting another’s faults, and allowing a new found positive outlook for the future dependant on a clean slate: It is only in addressing these issues that I may find myself not only somewhat evolved as a mindful human being, yet also able to move forward and progress in life. As Ghandi once said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
However, this belief didn’t bind itself to me from reading religious scriptures or attempting to interpret scholarly writings. It was born on an average day with me sprawled out on my couch watching television. As I was scanning through channels to find something to watch, I came across a documentary on a serial killer. Fortunately, after an hour of watching the accounts of a slew of missing children turn up dead, the investigators finally determined who the serial killer was. Contrarily, this was not the climax to the story that drew me to my greatest attention. It was during a closing interview with a mother of one of the murdered children. When asked how she felt about the man who killed her daughter she softly muttered, “I’ve forgiven him.” I shuttered.
That night I lay in bed attempting to clear my head of all the occurrences of the day so that I may fall asleep. Unfortunately, I still couldn’t get this woman’s words out of my head. Quite frankly, I was pissed off about it, too. Questions flew from my mind that I couldn’t even attempt keep up with. “How on earth could this woman forgive this man? Shouldn’t he be some kind of exception to a religious doctrine? Even more insanely, how did she do it? Was she lying? But… why would she lie?”
I decided it was time to think about her decision sensibly, not to accuse the pitiable woman of being dishonest or foolish. I began to imagine what it must have felt like to experience the utmost of dark feelings for another person like she must have. Instantaneously, I thought about my father. I reflected on the time when I chose to shut him out of my life due to the utter abhorrence I felt toward him for the ways he mistreated me without remorse during his drug addiction. I thought about the years I toyed with the idea of forgiveness, how forlorn and angry I was. I felt the pain.
I recalled the day I forgave him. No, I didn’t say it to his face, but I didn’t have to. I wasn’t doing it for him; I was doing it for me. I had finally reached the other side of this uphill battle. I remember the feeling of being liberated, matured. All of that energy I spent harboring ill feelings for so long was now mine again. I wondered how this woman felt on her day. I wondered how long her struggle was. Surely it was one filled with thorns. Yet, in choosing to feel them she was able to move on. At that moment, I understood the beauty in the battle. I believed in the struggle.
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