| Anne Williamson |
All forgiveness involves grief… I will never know what it feels like to be a boy unconditionally loved by his father. The story of our marriage will never be a fairy tale again. I have broken people I love with my own brokenness. Those 10 years, I’ll never get those back.
This is what makes forgiveness so hard. It’s also what makes it sticky. Our grief deserves space; we must give it time. And yet, hold on too long and you begin to identify with… no, as it. The grief becomes entangled in your self – shaping the stories you tell, the life you create.
My favorite definition of forgiveness comes from a 1990 guest on The Oprah Winfrey show named Harold. Paraphrasing him, Oprah says, “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different.” It’s not condoning or excusing; it’s accepting what was, and even what currently is…
I don’t have the relationship with my mother I want and may never. My body is failing me. I still break those I love with my own brokenness.
It’s not easy to face these things, or the pasts we wish weren’t so. We must grieve them, giving up the hope that they’re not true, accepting… what was was, what is is. Doing so aches at first but it also opens up space for tomorrow. In forgiveness, we find the hope of internal reconciliation, whether external reconciliation is possible, wise, or not. We find resiliency. We find all the good that already is. We find freedom.
This holiday season, as you sit around tables with or feel the absence of those who’ve hurt you, who you’ve hurt, pay attention… Are you grieving? If so, that’s fine! Good! Grief is necessary to forgiveness. But, don’t get stuck there. Are you stuck there? Grief that is moving you toward forgiveness doesn’t stick forever; it moves you someplace new. It moves you to a-ha’s, boundaries, therapy, conversations, healing practices. It moves you to letting go, so that all the good that may be tomorrow, or even your very next moment, has a place to land.