[T]hese days one has to wonder whether forgiveness has any value if it was given for free.
I have read so many pieces and heard so many lectures on the value of forgiveness over the years, from the practical and mundane to the spiritual, that I can't help but think that we actually under appreciate the amount of power it can have.
I think the best way that I often see it, is that it doesn't mean there will be no punishments or retributions, because one is a necessary deterrent to keep things from going wrong and the other is a necessary tool to help right things after they've gone wrong. What it does mean though, is that it gives us the power to make the conscious decisions to not let the past negatively affect our present and therefore limit our future. By forgiving someone, we're giving them the ability to continue with their lives and not let their past mistakes weigh them down. More importantly though, by forgiving someone, we're giving ourselves the ability to continue with our lives and not let their past mistakes weigh us down.
As a really clunky metaphor, let's pretend we're swimming in an ocean, lost. In one hand we're holding a brick labeled "anger" and in the other hand we're holding a brick labeled "resentment." We want to hold onto these bricks because we're emotionally and psychologically attached to them. Is it possible to keep swimming while holding onto them? Yes. Would it be easier to keep swimming if we let go of them? Yes. Now lets pretend a ship is passing us by and they throw down a rope so we can climb aboard. Is it possible to climb the rope while still holding onto the two bricks? How much easier would it be if we let go of one? How much easier would it be if we let go of both?
No one can tell us to hold onto the bricks or let them go, or when or how or why we do it. That's all left up to us as individuals. But if and when we choose to let go, and really let go of them, we might find ourselves more capable of navigating the world around us and seizing opportunity when it comes our way.
This was a beautiful post by the way.