Monday, March 8, 2010

Brought to You by the Letter U



1. not returned or reciprocated: unrequited love.
2. not avenged or retaliated: an unrequited wrong.
3. not repaid or satisfied.

Man, [U] was a hard one to decide on. I can’t say any of the suggestions jumped out at me, but I suppose that’s the fun of this A 2 Z concept… it’s supposed to be a challenge. :)

I’ve talked with a few people lately about forgiveness and the struggle so many have with the concept of forgiving, of letting go, of accepting what has been. Does it mean that we are saying what was done to us is ok? Does it mean that we are saying they are right and we are wrong? Does it mean that we have to put ourselves back in the same position and hope for the best that history won’t repeat itself?

For me, the answer to all of those questions is no. I think one of the hardest things about forgiveness is that the person who has been wronged often has to leave the issue unrequited. Whatever was done that requires forgiveness often leaves us broken or empty, and sometimes those feelings weren’t validated. And perhaps still aren’t. As much as our deepest desire is sometimes to retaliate for being hurt, that’s not what forgiveness is all about. Oftentimes, even when matters are resolved to the best of the abilities of those involved, the injured party is still left feeling unsatisfied. Unrequited.

Being wronged hurts. Speaking forgiveness is sometimes easy, but truly feeling it is often hard… because we often have to decide if we’d rather be right, or if we’d rather be happy. If we’d rather hold onto our righteous hurt, or if we’d rather extend grace. Let’s be honest… we’re human… it’s our impulse most of the time to hold on rather than leave ourselves unrequited.

I was given a whole new clarity about forgiveness when I came across this phrase years ago:

IMG_2051Forgiveness is giving up the possibility of a better past.

Yep. It impacted me enough to put it on my Wall of Doodles.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? We hold onto things because they are unrequited. Because they hurt us. Because they never should have happened in the first place. Because we want to go back to the time before we were hurt and make it not happen. We want a better past.

But that’s not possible.

Life happened.

The possibility for a better past just doesn’t exist. But the possibility for a better future is available to each and every person who is still breathing. We can let go of the hurt and the anger and the need to once again say, “But I was right!” Each and every one of us has the opportunity to decide that our future will be better than our past. And we have the opportunity to give someone else the grace to know that, too… by extending forgiveness. By doing as Christ has done for each of us over and over and over again.

Imagine if He looked as us and said, “But I was right,” instead of, “But you are Mine.”

Letting go of the possibility of a better past means that a better future is possible… but that doesn’t always mean both people will choose that path. There are people in my life who I have forgiven, knowing the past cannot change. But some of those people choose to live out the same actions over and over. They have the possibility for a better future, but they are choosing not to take it. I can forgive them without walking back into unhealthy situations. I can forgive them, and still choose not to play the game. I hope someday they will choose a better future, and I will cheer them on if they do. In the meantime, I care about them from a distance so I don’t participate in what is as unhealthy for them as it is for me. I think, just like God does with us, we can stay where we are when they move away. And still be here when they choose to come back.

I have a very good memory. My friend Susie often says that I’m her memory as well, since I remember details of her world she sometimes forgets. So, for me, saying I’ll forgive and forget isn’t really practical. I once had someone tell me they knew forgiveness was real in them when they could remember what had been done to them without feeling like they did when it happened. That has been true for me, too. I don’t forget. And I think it’s good to remember in order to not put myself back in harmful situations. I have to remember in order to learn from things. But when I remember without feeling the sadness or hurt or pain, then it’s just a memory. It’s a past that can’t be changed for the better, followed by a future that can.

I’ve learned that leaving things unrequited can be a beautiful gift. It means they can be left where they belong so forgiveness can be given, received and cherished.

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a to z

We’re already up to [V], people!!! Leave me a topic suggestion in the comments and I’ll be [v]ery happy to accept the challenge for next Monday. :)

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The only thing this next bit has to do with being unrequited is that I want this cd by Adie and I won’t be satisfied until I have it. :) My friend Jessica sat down with her friend Adie Camp, who has an amazing new cd being released on Tuesday. It’s such a gift to be able to hear from the heart of an artist before you hear her lyrics and melodies. Jess is giving away 5 cds… so go to her post here and enter to win!!!

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