bonar crump

bonar crump
husband - father - reader - runner - picker - grinner - lover - sinner

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Forgive the Unforgivable. How?

Jennifer Lauck
Author, 'Blackbird'

To forgive was to be divine and as a child, among my spanking clean brethren, I did forgive all those who had trespassed against me. As time passed though, the trespasses seemed to add up faster than my ability to forgive and pretty soon I was buried in what had gone wrong. That's when I started to wonder: just what was the point of wiping the slate clean? Cynicism set in.

~ ~ ~

The question of forgiveness has come up for me a lot these days. Along with millions of other couples out there in the U.S., a country that suffers from a startling divorce rate, I'm in the middle of couples counseling with my husband. We are determined to save our marriage. For him it's number two. For me, number three. The statistics aren't on our side. Second and third marriages have even higher failure rates than first marriages, according to Elizabeth Gilbert, who penned the book Committed about her own second marriage.

On one particular dark night, I went to sleep angry and woke up the same way. It had been like that for days, weeks and months. It hurt to be so pissed off at this man I called "husband" and an old lesson of forgiveness popped into my head. I thought, "just forgive him, Jennifer. Just try. Make it like a little candle you hold in a dark tunnel and keep your eye on that flame. Forgive him every five seconds if you have to but forgive."

This thought was the beginning of a major shift that nudged my rigid wall of anger just enough that I could see past my husband and peer into deeper shadows. The image of the little candle held in the dark was one I had used before, as an eight-year-old child when I had endured a sustained violent and sexual attack by a man three times my age. Unable to escape, as a child, I took refuge in this image of the candle of forgiveness. I told myself that I might not even live to see another day but it would be okay if I just held fast to that light.

~ ~ ~
It has taken time but I've learned from myself as that small child, who used forgiveness as a way to survive, that forgiveness isn't an idea and it certainly isn't something I need from a priest or even God. Even those who study forgiveness within the faith now tell us forgiveness is beyond the religious and the dogmatic.

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