Friday, April 6, 2012

Forgiveness is a Journey

I would have to say that the single most challenging spiritual issue that people ask me about is forgiveness. People don't know how to forgive, or be forgiven. They think that either they have never done anything that requires forgiveness -- or they think that forgiveness means just letting people get away with not facing up to the consequences of what they have done. Or, they don't know how to forgive someone who won't own up to the pain they have caused.

I just read a powerful book called Through the Glass by Shannon Moroney. The author had been married for month when the police came knocking on her door to tell her that her new husband had been arrested for committing two extremely violent sexual assaults.

Through the Glass describes her own harrowing journey through the shattering of her dreams, coming to terms with the unthinkable -- that she was married to a violent criminal -- and ultimately learning to support him, even as he was held accountable for his crimes. She describes the judgment and criticism she received for her decision to not simply write him off as a monster, and the reconciling encounters she had with his victims. Her story is an interweaving of the redemptive power of forgiveness and a vision of restorative justice.

The insight that Shannon has that I found really profound is that forgiveness is not a single act, it's a long process. We don't just forgive and forget, but having made the decision to forgive, we enter into a long, winding and complex journey of incorporating the reality of forgiveness into our lives and our growing and changing selves.

Anyone who has struggled with the pain of having been wronged or violated, or with the nature of forgiveness should read Through the Glass.

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