hard to forgive

     There are some problems that are hard to forgive.  Holding grudges is very bad for a person’s health, life expectancy and mood (not to mention that for Christians, it is not morally permitted).  Yet some situations are seemingly impossible to forgive.
     I was once in a situation where I thought I could not forgive, despite the compelling reasons to do so.  Forgiveness seemed out of reach because the other person was not in any way–I was sure–going to change.  If I forgave, the person would just commit the error again.  Then I would have to forgive again.  But knowing that I was going to be in such a cycle seemed to make my act of forgiveness disingenuous.  I thought forgiveness was about changing the relationship and getting it back on track.  But if that was impossible, then so, I thought, was forgiveness.  I concluded that forgiveness was not an authentic option for me in this case.  
     What I came to realize, though, is that forgiveness of serious or ongoing errors is something that takes a long, long time.  It is like an ongoing spiritual practice.  Every time my hurt would get triggered or recreated, I would need to forgive again, as though for the first time.  I needed to form a habit of forgiveness.  I would say to myself and to God, “It’s okay, I let it go.  I do not hold it against him/her.”  I did this, over and over and over, every time as though at square one.  It was like starting a movie at the beginning twelve hundred times.  It feels like you are getting no where.  But I just kept doing it.
     I began to form the habit, and after a months and months, it became easier.  I began to anticipate getting triggered, and then preparing my response of forgiveness.  I realized that this torture that was a permanent fixture in my life was a divine gift, given to me to produce a wellspring of God’s love in my soul.  God’s love is dynamic.  It is more like a thriving and productive vine than it is like a marble.  It is alive.  I realized that the hard and ever so permanent situation in my life was there to grow this vine, and produce more and more fruit over time.  In God’s eyes, my hardship was His gift to me.  It was a blessing.  My life was going to be less comfortable, less “successful” by my worldly and instinctual standards.  But it was about to become a hidden source of God’s Spirit in the world.
     All these years later, my opinion about forgiveness is that it is a lifestyle.  Whether I am forgiving myself or another, whether I am forgiving in the hopes of reconciliation or in certain despair of there ever being reconciliation, forgiveness is still a gift.  It is the way that God teaches me to become a little bit like Him.  And. . .
     . . . . strangely, the situation that I forgave over and over for a decade with no hopes of reconciliation has finally arrived at reconciliation.  Miracles do happen.