“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
Forgiveness is a misunderstood emotional place. We often think of it as something we offer to someone else, but actually the deepest experience is a state we find in ourselves. I have had a long and difficult relationship with my father. His manner is harsh and crude. His outlook is dark and his voice is gruff. This is the old man version of him. When I was young, he was powerfully angry and sometimes violent.
Now I am headed back to take my kids to see him. Each time I wonder if this is the last time. I am going to try and set up some services for him and make him food to keep in his freezer. I have not had much capacity to care for him in the past. I have never been able to let go of the past with him.
This is the real purpose of my trip. I want to forgive him, so that I can be free to forgive the parts of me that resemble him. I want to forgive him so that I can reach back to find the tender moments that have been buried under resentment and defensiveness. I want to forgive him so that I don’t have to carry what is unforgiven in me any longer.
A few months ago I was being interviewed on a radio show when the host told me she didn’t get the forgiveness thing. She didn’t have any forgiveness for the people who have harmed her. I was surprised how it came so clear to me, that forgiving others has little to do with them. The anger and resentment that we carry poisons the carrier way more than it harms its object.
This is the lesson that I am praying my heart is ready for.