Growing up with my Molly, my Irish twin, there were times when, believe it or not, we fought. Yelling, arguing, pushing, shoving, name calling, and all sorts of other typical brother-sister stuff. My dad was a truck driver for the Spokesman-Review (Spokane’s home newspaper) and worked the graveyard shift there for over 35 years. Living in our “cottage,” a two-bed home in North Spokane that was so small, when we ordered a large pizza, we had to eat it outside (OK I love the “were were so poor jokes”)! But the truth is, it was tiny, and since my dad had to sleep during the day, we were forced outside, which is a good thing, or we had to be mouse-quiet, which is nearly impossible for the two of us.
Those “quiet times” were when it seemed we would fight the most. After we got to each others throats, or one-upped the other with a witty, stinging comeback, my mom would eventually hear, step in, help resolve the situation, and then MAKE us forgive each other. Not easy as a kid being told to FORGIVE your sister when the blood was still boiling, the faces were still red, and the brain was going hundreds of miles an hour trying to come up with one more fiery worded arrow to hit her heart and soul.
My mom taught us to take responsibility for our actions, to say we were sorry, not just lip service mind you, but actually say “I am sorry for…(insert brotherly transgression here)” and then ask for forgiveness for the same thing. Tough doings at that age. But you know what it did? When you can muster up the courage for asking for forgiveness, and then your sister actually saying she did, and MEANING IT, diffused much of that built up anger, animosity, concern, and desire for more retaliation.
That’s the power of forgiveness. It diffuses angst. It cleans the slate. It releases people from being chained up mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Outside of LOVE (although I believe they are interconnected), forgiveness is probably the most powerful principle in the universe.
You see, I disagree with some of the “therapy” that is running around out there. I believe that true forgiveness is not just forgiving, but also forgetting. People these days seem to be “OK” with forgiving, but quickly add something like, “I forgive you, but I will NEVER forget.” To me, that isn’t real forgiveness. If you really want to let go of the wrong that other person inflicted, you have to RELEASE them. Releasing them from all connection, all hurt, all wrong-doing, all offense, all insult, all pain. Truly forgiving means you can see that person again, talk with them, relate with them, and even re connect with them. Just like the times my sister and I forgave each other, soon after we were playing again in the clubhouse, kicking the ball to each other, or heading to the park or pool…it was as if nothing happened.
I am grateful to be forgiven. I am hoping to be a better example of releasing others who have hurt me, wronged me, or committed what I believe, is something that is “unforgivable.” The chains of unforgiveness are just too strong, too cold, too bitter, and nothing good comes from hanging on to wrongdoing, hurt, and pain. Hearing those words, “I forgive you” can disarm the most powerful weapons of bitterness.