Friday, June 24, 2016

Forgiveness is complicated

Forgiveness is complicated, isn't it? It's tough enough to forgive the ordinary things of life, much less the truly horrific experiences.

We're not quite two weeks out from the massacre in Orlando. And it's been just over a year now since the terrible shootings in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in  Charleston, S.C. And we can recite several other terrible events that would make forgiveness a real challenge.

In reading interviews with the families of those killed in Charleston, it's clear to me that they're like all of us—moving through or toward forgiveness at their own pace. It's such an individual experience.

One woman whose mother was killed said she's still grieving too much to forgive. Another woman who lost her father in the shootings cited the fact that the Bible study group welcomed the stranger (the shooter) and asked, "Who am I not to forgive?"

Grief and forgiveness don't occur in a linear fashion. And they don't happen on a firm timeline. Each person experiences the event and the attendant grief and forgiveness process differently. And we do well to remember that both those things—grief and forgiveness—are processes.

Pay attention to what you're feeling now. If there's some unresolved grief work or some forgiveness needed, you'll feel so much better tending to it. And remember: grief isn't just for the large losses of life. Loss is loss.

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