“Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment. It is a choice to show mercy, not to hold the offense up against the offender. Forgiveness is an of expression of love”
I have glass embedded in my body. There is glass in my eyelids, on the side of my face, my scalp, and in my forearms. The windshield of my SUV crumbled into a million little pieces during my car accident. Mixed with dirt and gravel you get some nasty road rash. I still remember the nurse in the ER running a steal wool like tool across my injuries to get as much of it out before cleaning and dressing my wounds. I later asked the plastic surgeon why they did not go in and dig out every piece from my body. He explained that it would just cause more scaring and that my body would eventually shed the glass naturally. He proved to be correct for some of the larger pieces. Over the years at unexpected moments glass has worked its way to the surface of my skin and broken free of its prison.
However, it is 21 years later and I still have pieces of glass in my body and I know where every single one is.
I can run my fingers along my skin and feel where they are held captive. I often wonder how long will I keep each shard? Will they always be there to serve as a reminder of what I survived? Will I keep these foreign visitors until the day I die?
Earlier this year I spoke at a conference on forgiveness. I shared my story of the last 20 yrs along with some of the spiritual tools that I have found useful on my journey. It was a good experience. I came away from the conference feeling centered in God’s love and ready to take on what life had to offer.
Then it happened
Not but 2 days after the conference I received news that would put everything I had just taught to the test. It was the kind of life changing news that would cause me to forget everything I knew of forgiveness
I was overwhelmed by the weight of the responsibility that had just fallen on my shoulders. The life altering legal decisions I had to make for myself and my children. I found myself telling God “I did not sign up to be a mother under these conditions.” Asking the question “Why me?” and “How am I suppose to do this?” To intensify the pressure of the situation I discovered I had not dealt with some past experiences entirely. Old emotions erupted like a volcano that had been dormant. Filled with grief, anger, sadness, and feelings of abandonment. I found myself lost and in a fog.
So ironic that it was comical. I had just stood up and declared myself a “survivor” of these events, yet I still clung to anger and bitterness. Just as I still had glass embedded in my body, I found sharp painful emotions enclosed within my soul. Had I done work on these in the past? Yes. Like the glass, perhaps the “bigger issues” had worked their way to the surface but I was surprised to discover lingering pieces of darkness embedded in my heart and mind.
There I was. Faced with a choice. Fall into victimhood mentality or find forgiveness. Like a pendulum I found myself swinging back and forth on a daily basis.
It became clear that I needed a miracle. I petitioned my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to intervene. I needed help to remove the negativity from my soul with the least amount of scaring. I knew it could be done. I had experienced it in the past and believed that it was possible again. It just felt impossible at the moment.
And then the miracle came. The first weekend in April I heard this:
“One key to forgiving others is to try to see them as God sees them. At times, God may part the curtain and bless us with the gift to see into the heart, soul, and spirit of another person who has offended us. This insight may even lead to an overwhelming love for that person.”- Kevin R. Duncan
I started to pray to see this person the way God sees us. It wasn’t long before small moments of compassion and understanding began to wash over me in my daily life. I began to feel acceptance of this new situation in my heart. Hope. Peace. I remembered the overwhelming love and light I was met with in heaven and I know that if this individual were to be in the same position I was 21 years ago, they would have been met in kind. It came down to one simple practice: remembering. I just needed to step back and remember who I was. A divine daughter of God. When I stand in that space and energy I feel God’s love, not the worlds love. And with God all things are possible. Forgiveness becomes possible. Grace seems possible.
Forgiveness requires small daily commitments. A conscious choice to engage in a partnership with God. I don’t wake up every morning and think “I am a divine daughter of God”, and leap out of bed like a shiny bright care bear ready to love the world! Instead my mind is usually flooded with my to do list. Or I am met with a grievance of one of my children. Yet I have faith that if I can just remember who I am, all the anger, bitterness, and pain will come to the surface and leave me.
Everyday I will have to choose. I will continue to be hurt and have to practice forgiveness in small and large ways. Even just today I faced another crushing heartbreak, but I know that because I choose to remember, I choose the grace of God. Grace means “divine means of help”. I am literally choosing to accept all the help heaven has to offer. Heavenly Father is eager to help me, but He does not work by force. He will not bless me with what I will not receive.
“All that is of God encompasses love, light, and truth. Yet as human beings we live in a fallen world, sometimes full of darkness and confusion. It comes as no surprise that mistakes will be made, injustices will occur, and sins will be committed. As a result, there is not a soul alive who will not, at one time or another, be the victim to someone else’s careless actions, hurtful conduct, or even sinful behavior. That is one thing we all have in common. Gratefully, God, in His love and mercy for His children, has prepared a way to help us navigate these sometimes turbulent experiences of life. He has provided an escape for all who fall victim to the misdeeds of others. He has taught us that we can forgive! Even though we may be a victim once, we need not be a victim twice by carrying the burden of hate, bitterness, pain, resentment, or even revenge. We can forgive, and we can be free!”- Kevin R. Duncan
How will I remember? How will I find freedom? Notes on my mirror, meditation, praying, serving, and loving others. It will be a hundred little things. Mostly I will petition my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for grace and do all I can to be open to receive it. Plus every time I run hand across my face or fold my arms to pray. I will feel the glass in my body. It will serve as a reminder of the work left to do. Like the glass, one day it will all work it’s way to the surface and I will be free.