My friend, not long ago, was whining about some slight that she was still churning over, when I tossed off the oft-used, but ill-considered phrase: “Oh, forgive and forget.” She stopped in her tracks, looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “I will never forget, and I have no idea what forgiveness means.”
Hmmmm. I had to think about that. This happened several years ago, and I’m still thinking about it. Of course we don’t forget. And what is forgiveness, anyway? I have an idea these days about what mercy is, but forgiveness has eluded me.
Well, the other day I happened upon an interesting article on forgiveness, and the author said that forgiveness was simply allowing another person their path.
That was kind of a stunner to me, and I’m not sure I’ve finished assimilating that simple bit of wisdom.
We all have our paths. Some wind around in a convoluted manner, some take us through very dark places, some have us living the glamorous high life and some appear to be cut short before they’ve really begun. It is my personal opinion, belief and faith, that we all have the same destination, eventually, but it’s going to take us all a long time to get there, not just the 80 or so years we have in this life on this planet. But my path to that destination is my path and your path is your path, and if you do something that offends me, well, that’s your path, to be mildly offensive now and then. I certainly spent enough time being offensive to people before I decided not to do that any more. That’s a part of my journey.
I’m not finished considering all the ramifications of this simple raindrop of wisdom. A theological question I’ve wrestled with for years now, was answered in a simple four-word sentence: “Allow them their path.”
Could it really be that simple? Are all the things we wrestle with that simple?
Probably. We’re the ones who make our lives difficult.