Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Can Forgiveness (REALLY) Heal?

It's tricky business: FORGIVENESS. And I've no doubt there are likely about a gazillion articles, books, blogs, podcasts, etc. ad nauseaum, on the topic. Probably because...it's tricky business.

It may be "tricky" for a lot of reasons, but in my experience, after you clear away all the Ego and Excuses and ExtraCurricularBullshit, it turns out, it really isn't so tricky after all. Because, in the end, we all find out (eventually) that forgiveness isn't about whomever it is we blame for our pain or sadness or unfortunate circumstances. The act of Forgiveness is an act of Love...for ourSELVES.

Now, if you've ever read any of the nineteen bazillion "self-help" books out there, you've likely already heard this. OR if you happen to be of a certain religious pedigree. OR if you just stumbled upon this little nugget by "accident" matters not at all. What matters is that you reach that moment. That you finally get it. That you feel the excruciating hole in your heart begin to fill up again. And if you haven't yet reached that moment, perhaps I can provide a little hope for you until you do.

Let us back up for a moment (because you know that it's nearly impossible for me to write in any kind of chronological way).

A few years back, a dear and beloved friend of mine sent me a book she thought I might enjoy. The name of that book is "The Shack". It is a novel, written by a clearly "christian" man, who may or may not have had some semblance of a similar experience to the main character in the story. It is the author's rendition of what he believes is the ultimate answer to all the pain and grief and inexplicable agony we must endure until we find our way back to faith. At that moment in my Life, I wanted no part of any such story. I had (and still have) no interest in stories about "god" or "faith" or religious mumbo jumbo. To me, those stories are nothing more than stolen lore that were rewritten by a bunch of power-hungry men who wanted to control the masses. I've always believed that.

I still do.

Problem arose, though, when it occurred to me that my fascination with Mythology was nothing more than a curiosity about what makes Humans so vulnerable to such stories. I mean, just because millions of people "believe" in some god or other doesn't mean that my inquisitive mind should dismiss their versions of any given Mythology. Just because I fancy Pan or Odin or Kokopelli over the "God of Abraham" is not a good reason to visit a story by some man from Canada who may or may not have a gift to write, right? In the end, three years after she sent me the book the first time, she sent it again. This time I was ready to read it.

I will tell you that the book is beautifully crafted. The story is both excruciating and exhilarating. Between the tragedy of the main character's horrific event and the lengths to which he was willing to go to relieve the pain of his life, the other characters in the story came to life on those pages. By the time I finished, I was wanting more. And believe when I say, I was stunned by this realization.

Fast forward several years: the book has now been made into a movie. Among the cast are the brilliant Octavia Spencer (of "The Help" fame, among others) and the darling Tim McGraw (of Country Music fame). The rest of the cast were actors I'd never heard of. But I really wanted to see it just so I could see how it would compare to the book. {Also, one of the characters is portrayed by a delicious looking man named Aviv Alush. YumYumYummy man!}When it was released on DVD, I rented it and watched with a mix of trepidation and eagerness. Remember, I already knew the story and when I say "horrific", I mean horrific.

I actually had to pause the movie several times so I could gather myself and calm my heart rate down to a reasonable pulse. I called my dear friend and said, "I'm not sure I can watch it." She assured me that I'd be happy I did if I could just make it through the first part of the story. So I grabbed a box of kleenex, poured a glass of wine, and returned to the film.

I can't even begin to tell you how much this movie affected me. In all kinds of ways. On all kinds of levels. But the one thing that stuck out, days and weeks after I'd watched it, was a particular scene in which the main character must utter the words "I forgive you". It was one of the most heart-wrenching scenes I've ever witnessed. It tore me up so bad that I had to pause (again!) and call my friend (again!) and get a little more assurance that it was "worth it". That scene sticks with me to this moment. And brings us back 'round to this whole long-winded missive.


Whether of not there is a god, or a place called heaven or Love so powerful it can restore us is of little importance. People get to choose what to believe in. What god to worship. How to live their lives. But no matter the choices we make, it is essential that we all come to understand that Forgiveness is absolutely positively essential if we are to live with any semblance of Joy. In the end, no matter what "happens" when we leave the Planet, it is the space in between that makes or breaks a Life. Forgiveness, the most powerful form of Love I know, is the key to such a Life.

But then ... who am I to say?

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