A Quest

understanding reconstructions in life

2008: On Forgiveness

January 2, 2008

December 27, 2007–I started asking around different people what forgiveness for them is. I got a few answers back at once, some, I only got yesterday, which was four days after. Some even doesn’t have a reply yet. They said they’re still in the process of finding their personal meaning of forgiveness.

What was I thinking that I disturbed people, making them think really hard? Well, it just so happened that I was watching the telenovela Mari-Mar and it was the episode where Mari-Mar was having a conversation with Corazon (and I wonder why it wasn’t Tia Esperanza) about the three people (Angelica, Renato and Inocencia) asking for her forgiveness but she couldn’t forgive them at all. So, I wondered, what really is forgiveness? How do you forgive someone? At that time, Mari-mar said that she wasn’t ready to forgiveness, and as an audience, can see anger coming out of the wounds these people inflicted upon her in the past. So I sent a short message (SMS) to some people. At first, it was only a couple, but I thought, I might as well send it to several more and see what they thought.

Here are their answers (I purposely removed their names for anonymity, but the responses are in the order when their response came):

• Love
• An act of love..
• Forgiveness is equals to love.
• Forgiveness is a priceless gift that you can ever give to a person.
• Giving a chance to your loved one out of love…
• For me it’s an act that should be done only when you already received God’s grace of a heart healed from pain. Ü
• Forgiveness is accepting the other person who did you wrong again, it’s not totally forgetting the thing but it’s about moving on after such and being in peace with the other person.. c=
• Forgiveness: FOR and GIVE, you offer it to other people. NESS, pampaganda ng mga words para chuvaness, beautiness. Ü etc. Ü
• “When you can’t remember why you’re hurt, that’s the time you’re already healed.” And that’s forgiveness for me.
• Forgiveness is love. Ü (furthermore) Forgiveness is possible dahil sa malupit na pagmamahal ni God sa atin. Forgiving is becoming more God-like, more Christ-like.
• Forgiveness is being free of all the chains of negativities you have on someone… it’s like being able to fly again in the sky…
• Forgiveness is what comes before love.
• Forgiveness happens when one’s heart rests on the other after a fight or an argument, a misunderstanding, a mistake, a heartache, as the memory of such occurrence dissipates into the abyss.

• “It is the fragrance that flowers give when they are crushed.” =D
• Forgiveness.. is loving the sinner but not the sin. Ü
• Forgiveness is when you forget the feeling (of whatever happened) even though you still remember it.
• Yung forgiveness, if there’s no more hurt, and if you consider someone as na-forgive na, if you believe na what happened was a blessing.
• Forgiving seventy times seven, paulit-ulit kahit mahirap. It means infinity, walang katapusang pagpapatawad as long as God forgives, you must also forgive..
• Forgiveness is a sense of freedom. Forgiving free is giving freedom to your heart. If you forgive, you give your heart peace because you set free your hurts.
• Forgiveness isn’t forgetting, rather it’s accepting.
• Peace of mind! No guilt feelings
• Forgiveness is like forgetting what happened between you and the person and trying to build a “new” relationship.

Yes, they are a lot. Most of them says the same thing, some of them contradicts. I was honestly amazed when I received the first messages because of its consistency. If I’m not mistaken, it was what pushed me to ask more people. All of them, I believe, speaks of love. They all boil down to loving. I initially asked, if forgiveness is love, and you get hurt because you love that person, then leaves love very confusing.

One statement somewhat contradicts the others, the one that says “forgiveness is what comes before love.” I asked the person who gave this definition and as of press time (I used to be a campus journalist during high school), no reply from him is in my inbox.

One night, I was having a conversation (Yahoo Messenger Conference) with two very good friends (*wink), and we arrived at this topic. We laid down assumptions, and I shared to them some of the answers. As I shared, one of them asked, “So which is which? We forgive because we love, or we love because we forgive?” Phrasing it in another way, it goes like this: “I love him therefore I forgive him,” or “I forgive him therefore I love him.” We arrived in the conclusion that love should first be present before one can truly forgive. What was mentioned by some people was correct. Forgiving is not forgetting. We may forget what he did, and be at “peace” with that person, but when another wound came up, when we were again hurt, that “forgotten” wound throbs again and brought to the surface, making things worse. It’s like a wound being healed but without cleaning the wound itself (see my previous post, Hosanna).

Also, forgiveness being an act of love is not that simple. A mentor told me that we do not search for love, but love finds us. Another said that love finds those who are open for it. So I remember Paolo Coelho’s “The Zahir.” One part was about love being the wind, not being able to enter closed doors and windows, therefore, wouldn’t be able to clean the dust away from the different pieces of furniture and appliances inside. Just like in forgiveness, it would be easy to forgive someone of we are filled with that love. However, if, like Mari-Mar, anger (instead of love) comes out from us, forgiveness would really be on the front line of the impossible. Anger and revenge infects the wounds that we already have, therefore, making things more complicated.

After such a discussion, my other friend said, “then this leads us to a much deeper question: how do we keep open for love?” It was a valid question, in fact, a question not only applicable to forgiveness, but the elements that compose our lives. I asked some elders (not really old, just elder) this question, and the answer was “through God’s grace.” If you’re the one expecting practical answers, I’m sure you didn’t like the response. Ü

The answer is a mystery. One thing’s for sure, we must be conscious and decide to keep our doors and windows open, amidst all the pressures coming from both outside and inside that wishes to close them, thus preventing love from entering us. And really, it would be really hard, especially if all the pain in us is throbbing real hard, as if every pain’s screaming for us to notice them. Yes, we can keep them open through God’s grace.

Going to the personal level, I honestly hid some things earlier. Watching Mari-Mar just fuelled my real intention of asking around. It led me into examining myself. How about me? Why haven’t I forgiven?  Why do I remain cold? Why do I keep past hurts and use them along with the new hurts inflicted? It does make things complicated. It makes the new wound more painful. Why do I keep myself from celebrating fully the greatness of the Lord by holding on these painful things? Why do I choose to inflict more pain to myself?

It is hard to pray the Lord’s prayer if one haven’t forgiven (how can you pray “please forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us” if you really haven’t?). We cannot say that we love our brother and sister if we haven’t forgiven them, if we “hate” them still (1 John 2:10-11; 3:14-15; 4:20-21).

Last night, I dreamt of something I don’t know how to describe. A friend appeared in my dreams, and there, the instant I saw him, I came running to him and we hugged, just like good old friends. I last saw him (in real life) way back October 2006, and during that time, I was really having a hard time opening myself to love. Things that he did, he didn’t do, and mine as well, have really caused me great pain. In my dream, I felt very light (which was very different to the way I felt the last time we were together) and we just walked, have a light conversation. He gave me a watergun and I squirted water onto his face. I remembered that he wanted to give me a diaper, and our conversation was revolving on why does he needs to give me a diaper. I guess the babies in the house and my mom penetrated into my dream through that (they were talking about diaper at that moment). Just the same, the meeting was peaceful, filled with joy, that we are friends, amidst all that happened, and things that remained unspoken of. I think this manifests forgiveness. Because of that dream, I chose to hold the door and windows harder for them to remain open for love.

Oh, before I forget, here’s a more practical definition (description) of forgiveness. One time I was looking for old messages that could be erased from my phone and I came across the excerpt I saved (and forwarded to friends) from a homily. “We are people of hope, therefore, we hope in people. If we forgive a person who has hurt us, we actually mean that we hope in him or her. Forgiveness is giving another chance for someone whom we believe can also change. If we can master our tempers, then we can control anything.”

I hope that we’d all remain open for love, and be able to forgive. Ü

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