Dynamic Woman — Changing Times
Forgiveness is popping up everywhere as a tonic for what ails us. The healing power of forgiveness is touted in newspaper headlines and on websites. In such a provoking world, how do we develop the habit of forgiveness?
Forgiveness is like breathing. We breathe in acceptance and expel bitterness. Like breathing, forgiveness is a necessity. It is an action that must be repeated continuously with a rhythm of regularity. Acceptance does not mean approval. It is the inbreath we take when we acknowledge that a situation exists. A husband leaves. A worst-nightmare candidate gets elected to high office. Our world has changed.
Forgiveness, not a one-time occurrence
How long it takes to release bitterness on the out breath depends on the severity of the situation. The pain of our circumstance may cause us to lose our breath for a time, a reaction that disorients. But once we catch our breath and reestablish our rhythm, equilibrium returns.
Forgiveness is not a one-time occurrence. Some situations we accept in small sips. We don’t acquiesce, we build an understanding of the new order. At some point, we may take a deep breath, expel an accumulation of poison, and begin to focus on new possibilities. Breathing fresh air free of bitterness clears our minds and renews our energy.
Not all acts of forgiveness are in response to events that rock our world. Forgiveness can be a daily spiritual practice, a seconds-by-seconds act of grace that allow us to deal with petty irritations. The man in line in front of us is annoyingly slow. Doesn’t he realize there is a line of people behind him? Breathe in. No, he doesn’t. He has dementia. Breathe out. You will be in line for awhile.
There are actually things we can do to improve the situation. If we relax our breathing and smile, we give permission to the store clerk to relax. The clerk will be less likely to make mistakes that cost even more time. Others in line may pick up the cue and leave the store feeling good about having exercised patience instead of wheeling out of the parking lot loaded for bear.
Forgiving people we fear may have delivered us a mortal wound, one that involves broken trust and dashed hopes, is never automatic. It needs more power than we can summon on our own. That forgiveness requires time and the power of healing prayer.
Give it time. Pray. And don’t forget to breathe.
© Sydney Avey