Forgiveness is the pardoning we are moved to do by love when someone hurts us and we respond with mercy. There are two kinds of forgiveness: The mercy we show to those who are heartfully sorry for having offended us, and the forgiving of those who show no remorse whatsoever. One calls us to be merciful to others and the other begs us to be merciful to ourselves. Both are soulfully necessary in different ways.
Forgiving the Forgivable
It’s not difficult to see how forgiving the sorrowful changes us. Not only can we pardon the offender with little effort, but we may even be moved to embrace them compassionately and welcome them back into our life as though nothing happened. We forgive and forget.
Forgiving the Unforgivable
But why should we show mercy to those who don’t need or want forgiveness? Because forgiveness has nothing to do with who does or doesn’t deserve it. We have no control over that. But we do have control over what happens to us when we do and don’t forgive. In refusing to forgive, we tend to harbor feelings of hurt, pain, and misery that can torment us day and night. Eventually we can become bitter, even hateful, far more dangerous to ourselves and others than those we can’t forgive.
The Amazing Grace in Letting Go
Forgiving the unforgivable is soulfully essential because if we spend the rest of our life hating the one who hurt us, hatred binds us to them forever as we allow bitter feelings to consume us. We need to forgive the unforgivable not because it lets the offender off the hook (we never need to see that person again), but because of the devastating effects in our life when we don’t. So have mercy on yourself. Forgive the unforgivable and grant yourself peace.
Until next week, think about this: “Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.” Rene Descartes
Karol Jackowski, Ph.D., became a nun in 1964. She's also been a college administrator, graduate of New York University, manager of a toy store, author of eight books, painter of religious folk art, and sister to everyone she meets. Please visit her website at KarolJackowski.com.