Monday, March 14, 2016

Let go of the old stories

Forgiveness is such a huge, and often misunderstood, topic, isn't it? Seldom are we really taught just how to forgive—even though most of us grow up hearing that we need to do so.

Recently I read in Kathleen Fischer's Autumn Gospel: Women in the Second Half of Life this description of forgiveness:

"One therapist suggests four stages of forgiveness: to forgo (leave it alone), to forbear (to abstain from punishing), to forget (to avert from memory, to refuse to dwell), to forgive (to abandon the debt). She stresses that our part in the process is to refuse to dwell, to punish, to recollect. We stop bringing up the wrong again and again, and make a conscious decision not to hold resentment and retaliate."

What that therapist had also said is that we need only "begin the process" and be open to it, praying for the "grace of forgiveness" and the rest would come.

So often, however, we like to tell the old, old stories, don't we? We like to hang onto the resentments and repeat the tales of how wronged we were. So perhaps that therapist is right: If we but begin the process and "refuse to dwell," the rest may be easier. If we begin the process and truly open our hearts, forgiveness can come to dwell within us rather than the old tales dwelling there. It's worth a try, isn't it? The act of forgiving sets us free—we are the ones who benefit! Let go, let go, let go.

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