The Problem With Forgiveness
There are times when forgiving another comes easily. Bridges are crossed and damage is repaired. Yet at other times, the choice to forgive feels too risky, if not impossible. We’re frozen. The following piece is written from the perspective of one who can’t seem to move forward. Perhaps you’ve been there as well.
The icy waters wrap around me like a dark, deadly blanket. My body, initially shocked, is becoming numb to the pain. There’s a strange comfort in numbness – granting temporary relief while causing excruciating damage.
It’s your fault, after all – this predicament I’m in. Each act of betrayal, each harmful word, and even your deafening silence. They doused buckets of frigid water into this vast pool of pain.
The first wave brought shock. I was unprepared. Disoriented. Confused. With each icy blast, the warmth I’d always known was stripped away from me. I thrashed about wildly. Despite all my scheming, I was trapped.
Eventually, I adjusted to the new environment. The numbing water did its work. I wanted to forget what it felt like to be warm, to be comfortable, to be safe. Those memories had become more painful than the insidious cold death creeping through my veins. With every moment that transpired, life-giving blood moved more slowly. Tissues were starving. I was dying.
In the dark, cold waters, I became consumed by my struggle to survive. I had little awareness of anything other than my immediate crises. Unbeknownst to me, a shift had occurred. You had entered my pool of pain and were moving toward me, moving resolutely across the frigid sea. I braced for the next wave to hit. I squinted and tried to assess the situation, but my vision was distorted. All I could see through fear-clouded waters was a shadow of someone I thought I had known. I could no longer see you clearly. Rather, all I could see was a shadow moving toward me. One that was no longer safe.
I didn’t consider that you had taken this risk to jump in with me.
I didn’t know that you were trying to help.
I didn’t care that you were sorry.
I didn’t want to take the risk.
Frantically, my eyes scanned the horizon for options.
Then I spotted it. At first, I struggled to see. Then the image became clear. Just outside my grasp floated a life preserver. It was old and tattered, covered with scarlet stripes. Stripes that had been singed into the surface 2,000 years ago. It offered a way out. For both of us. I had a choice to make.
I could take hold of the float and extend it to you. We could emerge from the slow, frigid death and let the sun warm us. Thaw our bodies and hearts. Bring us back to life. My heart skipped a beat. This nightmare could be over.
But what if the waters came again?
What if I found myself helpless once more?
No, that’s a chance I cannot take.
Indeed, there’s a strange comfort in numbness.
So I’ll tread my icy waters and turn away from the raft.
I won’t be hurt again.
I’m in control.
Julie Silander received her BS degree in Business Administration from Furman University, and she held a variety of roles in the banking industry before becoming a full-time mom. Julie and David have five children, and they have been friends of Barnabas for close to twenty years. Most recently, Julie has been intimately involved in the strategic planning for The Barnabas Center in preparation for the next phase of the ministry. She spends the bulk of her days schooling their three youngest children. She also writes regularly at www.greenertrees.net.