There’s a woman in my past who hurt me deeply. Let’s call her Alfreda.
I thought we were friends. I wanted to be her friend. But she betrayed me and discarded the friendship I offered and sadly, we are no longer in relationship.
She never apologized to me but, being a good little Christian, I uttered the words: “I forgive you, Alfreda,” years ago.
And being a good little Christian, I wanted to mean them. And I guess I did, but the truth is, in most cases, if we are really honest with ourselves, forgiveness is a process of time and commitment to the idea, not a single moment or a fuzzy feeling that fades when we remember the wrong done to us.
So I’ve had to forgive her again many, many, many times over the last few years.
Recently I heard that something wonderful had happened to her and I caught myself getting really excited for her.
And I thought: “There it is! It’s finally happened. I have finally and completely forgiven her.”
I guess that’s my tell.
Not only did I no longer have to fight the desire to wish her ill (even good little Christians sometimes struggle not to wish mean people slow, painful deaths…whaaa’ ?), not only was I not ambivalent or indifferent to her, but I was actually and genuinely happy for her.
And so I knew.
The painful, difficult, uphill, at-times-seemingly-impossible process of learning to love someone the way Christ loves us even after we break his heart had come full circle for me with Alfreda.
I have not forgotten what she did, of course, that would be anti-being a normal human being. But what Christ had done for me, through praying for Alfreda, through capturing my negative thoughts about her, through being open to the conviction and leading of the Holy Spirit in this process, is to help me to see her with eyes of compassion, and emptied my heart of bitterness and the need for justice and vindication.
It took a while, but forgiveness finally rid me of carrying the heavy burden of her choices on my shoulders.
I’m free! And so I am free to love her well, to rejoice when she rejoices, to cry when she cries.
Even at a distance.
I’d love to know…what’s your tell? How do you know that you have finally Let.It.Go?
(Ha! I bet now you have that Frozen song in your mind. My 8-year old son said to me: “That song is just noise. It is not real music.” Blasphemy!)
No, seriously, how do you know?