About ten days ago, I was driving home from work when I caught this scene in the rear view mirror of my car. All of the sudden, I had a thought. This beautiful scene might just be what forgiveness looks like. There are some dark clouds in the photo, but they are surrounded by light. Those dark clouds are woven in the tapestry of my story, a part of my path. Both the dark and the light have been integral to my spiritual formation.
How have I forgiven? Prayer. So much prayer. I’m thinking of one person in particular. I’d argue with my altruistic thoughts sometimes and think to myself, “Why should I pray for him?” The truth was that I loved him. And if that was really true, I needed to pray for his happiness. So I did. Often. And sometimes it made me cry. Sometimes, the prayers began with some rather inelegant language. But I kept doing it. Until one day, I stopped telling the story in my head about how horribly he’d treated me. I stopped arguing with him in my head. I stopped calling him all sorts of unkind names in my thoughts. I just stopped. Then, I was free.
I realized that if love were to ever reach me again, I needed to let go of these old, sad stories of hurt, loss and betrayal. This man who I loved helped me through a huge transition in my life. He affirmed me often at a time when I sorely needed it. For his own reasons, it was not possible for him to be congruent. His words didn’t match his actions and his actions didn’t match his words. Our relationship ended.
Sometimes it is safer to love at a distance. I smile to myself and gently reflect back, just like looking at this beautiful sunset in my rear view mirror.