Forgiveness is a personal journey for each of us. This is just one story. Yours will be different.
Hurts are nasty, evil little things aren’t they? Much like Gollum’s ring, they change us. The corners of the mouth turn down, the brows become wrinkled and dark. And it changes our hearts and minds. When we hold that hurt in our hands it becomes a part of us, it becomes a filter with which we see the world. The landscape is bleak and barren. We may not be screaming out “gollum!” but our sounds are as sorrowful: “it’s not fair!”; “how could he say those things!”;”how could she have done that to me?” Sometimes we believe forgiveness will come when the pain goes away. It just doesn’t work that way.
To forgive is to make a choice. To forgive, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “to give up resentment of or claim to requital for”, or “to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)” I like this second definition. What is resentment? It’s something that ties us up and binds us. As we continue to invite it into our hearts, it squeezes tighter and tighter, until we can hardly breathe. What this definition does not say is “we cease to remember the pain”. While many will say forgive and forget together, they have separate definitions. To forget is “to lose remembrance of”, but can also be used for “to disregard intentionally”. But even with intentional disregard, the memory, and often the pain, is still there.
There have been some recent hurts in my life, in my family. I definitely felt resentment toward the offender. I was angry. I said “how could this person have done this?” Others in my life are hurt more, are closer to the offense than I am. This only served to create more anger about the pain inflicted on those I love. The topic would occasionally come up with people unfamiliar with events and my feelings were clear. As long as we are using some Lord of the Rings references, recall Bilbo’s flash of crazy, Gollum-type behavior when seeing the Ring once more. Creepy, right? But this was the picture I had of myself at times as the bitterness rang in my words. The person on the other side of the conversation would get this look…you know, the uncomfortable, how-do-I-get-out-of-this, did-you-just-turn-green-and-your-eyes-bug-out? look. Gollum green just isn’t my color.
When I started cluing in to the reactions, I realized I needed to forgive. And the Gollum glasses came off. And the world was lush and green, then sun rises and sets, life is happening! The chains and ropes around my heart dissolved away. Occasionally, I put those glasses back on again. It happens less and less. The topic comes up, I get the “look”, then I choose to forgive again…and ask for forgiveness myself.