Forgiveness is probably the hardest thing we are called to do by Christ. “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Sometimes I think I’m on my ultimate and remarkable seventy-eighth time of forgiveness.
Years ago, I was relating an incident with my mother to my husband. I began to cry uncontrollably. When I was finished, I got into the shower and when I got out, I had no memory of what I had just told him. To this day, I only remember telling my husband something, but not exactly what it was.
Another time I was walking down the street when I spotted a priest ahead of me from our former parish. My husband and I had left the parish because of this man. It was an ugly set of circumstances. I stopped and watched the priest walk down the street. This man had had his own personal trials. I felt an acute sorrow for him. It crept up on me and replaced the anger I still held for him. I literally ran home. When I got there, I blurted out to my husband, “I’ve forgiven Father ______.”
My husband only looked a little surprised and asked me what happened. It was hard to put it into words, as it is now. The whole thing seemed like something out of a movie and in slow motion!
Recently I encountered someone who I have held a grudge against for many years. In my encounter with this man, he asked about my husband and I and I told him we were well. I inquired about him and he said he was “better.” In that moment, I realized he had been quite ill. A friend had told me about his numerous health problems, but I couldn’t remember what had happened. I lamely mumbled something like, “glad to hear it,” and walked away.
Later that day, I replayed our little exchange in my head. Something took place there and I didn’t know what it was. I felt differently about him. My blood pressure didn’t rise as I thought about him. The memories of those circumstances were still there, but again, the only word I can use is that they were “different.” I kept asking myself, “What happened?”
Forgiveness is what happened. I felt like a piece of me had slipped away. I hadn’t lost anything good. The anger I felt for this man was gone. There’s an empty space there that will have to be filled. Compassion might be what’s needed to fill that space.
As I get deeper into my 35th year of conversion to the Catholic faith, this forgiveness thing has been like a package that I open, only to find another package.
Though I feel that I’ve experienced my ultimate and remarkable seventy-eighth time of forgiveness, I have a feeling there will be seventy-eight more.
How have you experienced forgiveness? Was it remarkable like a bolt of lightning or was it subtle and something you had to think about?
Copyright 2017 Pam Spano