Figuring Out Forgiveness


HOW DO YOU KNOW when you’ve forgiven someone?” was the question that started it. An hour later we were still looking for the answer.

It was 1998. We sat at a high table at the back of the old Bridgewater Cafe, ate salads and discussed forgiveness.

Then we went our separate ways.

When we met again a year later, it was the same thing. And the year after that, too. No matter where our conversations began, they always wound around to the topic of forgiveness – what it looks like, how you know you’ve truly forgiven, stuff like that.

We kept hashing it out. Maybe it’s one of the reasons we’re friends. We like big, philosophical discussions.

But it wasn’t all philosophical. We each had a forgiveness issue that was personal, one that, if we didn’t desperately and persistently pursue true forgiveness, to not only understand it but also appropriate it, it would swallow us alive . . . because unforgiveness will do just that.

So many questions: Must I pretend nothing ever happened? Where are the boundary lines? If I set boundaries, does that mean I haven’t forgiven the person?

Life keeps providing new opportunities to test our theories, so each year we are back together, comparing notes.

* * *

I FIND MYSELF NOW in the mother of all forgiveness challenges.
The list is long.
Life is short.
And the head sessions with my friend keep coming back.

I don’t plan to carry a bag of rocks around the rest of my life. I’m making progress, but this is no he-stole-my-pencil-oh-here’s-another situation.

Escape appeals to me, so I go looking to see when the next Writers Retreat is. It’s been too long since I fell in a river. 🙂 While looking over the schedule, though, something else pops out at me:

Screen Shot 2013-03-31 at 9.40.04 PM

Count. Us. In. Here’s why:

  • Because, even after all these years, I’m still chasing this forgiveness thing down.
  • Because thinking there’s some other path out of pain is a myth too many of us believe.
  • Because calling yourself a Christian and choosing not to pursue forgiveness are two things that don’t go together.
  • Because, if I don’t, I’ll never be able to say again The Lord’s Prayer.

“…forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
-Matthew 6:12

Forgiveness is something worth pursuing, worth figuring out, even if it takes a lifetime. Even if I fail at it, I want at least to be known as someone who went after it.

– If you like this post, please share it somewhere.-

* * *
Related posts:

How It Starts

Unsure I Can Make it Through Another Storm

We’re Talking about it, Just Not One Day a Week

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
Aside | This entry was posted in forgiveness, Laity Lodge. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Figuring Out Forgiveness

  1. Fern says:

    Forgiveness is worth the effort, Marilyn.

    To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
    (L. Smede)


  2. I’m gonna have to read through that brochure again! Sounds like a perfect spot to do that kind of work, Marilyn. Thank you for this. And prayers for a rich and helpful session.


  3. “Because calling yourself a Christian and choosing not to pursue forgiveness are two things that don’t go together.” — You really know how to slap someone in the face, lady. Thank God for you!


  4. Annie says:

    Yes, indeed, enjoy sitting in on your conversations, Marilyn.

    Is it OK to share a link to your last two posts on my blog Marilyn?

    If this comment doesn’t post again, will have to see if I can email you.


  5. Belinda says:

    Happy Resurrection Day tomorrow Marilyn. May all that he did break the strongholds that bind us and may we too, come out of the grave–free and unfettered.


  6. Well, I’d be honored to join in those discussions because forgiveness is something I continue to struggle with. One thing I know is that it’s not a destination. It’s a direction. Like going north–you choose to go north, and if you get off a little ways, like north-northeast, you reset to north. Always north. Until you’re Home.


  7. laura says:

    How wonderful that this group gets together faithfully and supports each other in such a journey. It makes a difference to have folks come alongside. This fits the bill of an essay, Marilyn. You make your point well.


  8. I so want to see you again at the writer’s retreat. We could have some excellent discussions on forgiveness, I’ll bet. xoxo


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