Forgiveness Doesn’t Come With a Debt

Yes, forgiveness doesn't come with a debt
I take my chances
I take my chances ev'ry chance I get
I've crossed lines of words and wire
And both have cut me deep
I've been frozen out and I've been on fire
And the tears are mine to weep
But I can cry until I laugh 
Or laugh until I cry
So cut the deck right in half
I'll play from either side
I take my chances
“I Take My Chances” artist: Mary Chapin Carpenter  songwriters: Don Schlitz and Mary Chapin Carpenter

We hang on tightly to resentment. We don’t want others to steal it from us. It makes us feel safe and smug. it justifies our anger at the betrayal, the theft, the wrong. We sit with it as it festers.

Bitterness is easy. We cast blame. Unhappiness is not our fault. It lies within the misdeeds of others. They are the reason for our suffering. We wallow in our victimness.

Forgiveness is difficult, because with it comes reflection. If we forgive, we must let go of the grudge we have harbored for so long. If we release resentment, what is left?

Oprah Winfrey tells of a moment she had on her show back in 1990 when a man told her that forgiveness is letting go of the past we thought we wanted. She calls this her “transcendent moment.” She states, “He said forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different.” She then adds, “It took me to the next level of being a better person. I don’t hold grudges for anything or any situation — and neither should you. [Forgiveness] is letting go so that the past does not hold you prisoner.

“So the past does not hold you prisoner.” If we let go, we are free. When we forgive, we release ourselves from the chains of the past. So here’s the truth: we cannot change history. It has been written. Some wrongs were self-inflicted, others possessed malice toward others, and a few unintentional burns still smolder.

I have discovered that offering up forgiveness to others and to myself is a daily practice. When the rage begins to seep into my psyche, I say a simple, silent prayer, “I forgive.” And when I do this, I feel lightness appear. This quiet thought gives me pause. I begin to let go of hurt and pain and remember the line in the song, “forgiveness doesn’t come with a debt.” 

Forgiveness is love. It is loving yourself, embracing all that is flawed. It is loving others, acknowledging we all stumble. I’ll take my chances.

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“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is not forgiveness without love.” - Bryant H. McGill

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” - Mahatma Gandhi

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” - Bruce Lee