Surprisingly, I don't think Mara and I have dedicated a post to this topic, despite the fact that both of us feel it is truly one of the most important virtues/concepts for us to understand & we talk about it all the time. In fact, it is something we meant to write about in great detail from the very beginning (and I think we have written about it quite a bit, though mostly indirectly as it is sprinkled through so many other posts). Perhaps it is because it is so important to us and the way we try to live, we kept putting off writing about it until we felt we could do it justice. I'm not sure that time has arrived, though I suppose it's time to stop delaying and just start talking.
I'll begin with some quotes from a book that has been on my mind for a few months now:
"When we are hurt, deeply or slightly, physically or emotionally, and we lie awake at night replaying angry scenes in our minds, staring at the ceiling, rehearsing what we will say and do next: thinking, worrying, planning...we are enslaved and imprisoned by that over which we obsess. Removing that obsession, "forgiving" it, has nothing to do with an apology extended or received; it has nothing to do with the other person at all. And [Jesus] is telling us it has nothing to do with God either. From God's point of view, we are always forgiven - seventy times seven - but that's only half the equation. We are the other half.
"Forgiveness is the surrender of our victimhood--taking back the power of full personhood that was stripped from us by another or ourselves. Either we find our way to let go of the victimhood of unforgiveness or we don't. Either we stop thinking, planning, worrying about it and become free from it and delivered from it, or we don't. God won't do it for us. Until we forgive [and] set ourselves free, we are not forgiven [or] set free."
He then speaks of a time in his life where he experienced significant betrayal. He talks about the sleepless nights, the constant worrying, the plotting and planning that I imagine all of us are familiar with to some degree or another when we hang onto the pain we've suffered at the hands of another (or our own for that matter). That negativity surrounded him until the day he finally chose to let it go. Interestingly, he recalls that the feeling of release and deliverance and forgiveness happened "without and apology offered or accepted, without any face-to-face contact at all."
A few pages later he makes this important statement: "The evidence of true forgiveness is the freedom to continue to act lovingly despite the hurts and tragedies we endure." I couldn't possibly agree more.
What about you? Can you relate to David Brisbin's definition of forgiveness? Do you believe in forgiveness without apologies offered or accepted? As we begin to tackle this most important topic of forgiveness, feel free to let us know what you struggle with or would like addressed in the future.