I felt outraged, eaten up by anger. Someone was telling vicious lies about a relative, trying to ruin their reputation. How could this person be so deliberately destructive? So hurtful?
I felt abandoned by God, felt overwhelming anger at God. My son had brain cancer and his Doctors gave him only about a year to live. "Why are You allowing this to happen? Don't You love us?" I yelled at God.
I'm sure that during your life, you've felt terrible anger at people for things they've done to you and yours. Have you also found it hard to forgive them? To forgive God? Have you, like me, struggled with what forgiveness means? This is what I've discovered. First - how I've slowly been able to forgive people.
Forgiveness is not a warm, fuzzy feeling. Forgiveness is not a feeling at all. Forgiveness does not happen on a time table either. Forgiveness happens slowly, imperceptibly, sometimes over years, almost without you knowing it is happening.
Forgiveness is a choice. At first, a choice to let go. Let go of the anger. Let go of the bitterness. Let go off the obsessive, looping thoughts that drive you crazy at night. You know all the negativity is destroying you. You have to let go of it or you can't survive, can't be whole again.
Forgiveness comes from a Power that is inside you, but is more than you. Slowly, imperceptibly, this Power tells you that the person who has wounded you so terribly is exactly that - a person, a sinner, someone who is also psychically wounded. This person who violated you and destroyed your security also has a soul and is answerable to God, Who chooses how to exercise justice, exercise mercy. It takes a long time to believe this, to accept this.
Once you've laid the anger down and recognized that a human person did this, the next thought comes. This person is also a child of God.
And the Power that is more than you says "I love and want this person's soul to be saved. Because I am Love and that is My child as you are My child."
"I can't pray for that person!" you storm.
"Then let Me do the praying for you and in you."
Prayer and Love and Forgiveness are not feelings. They are thoughtful choices. They are acts of the will. You will that this person will be blessed by God. Slowly, imperceptibly, the hard dry ground of your soul is being loosened, is being seeded and watered by Living Water. You are finally being freed of a terrible drought, a terrible burden. You have returned to your True Self again through praying for another.
Forgiving God takes personal acts of trust, over and over. "My Father, I have to trust that You love me. That You know what You're doing when I don't." It takes falling at Jesus' feet and admitting "Lord, I don't know where else to go. You have the Words of Everlasting Life." It takes the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Forgiveness is slowly allowing life to begin growing roots and budding and leafing in your newly-fertile soul through wishing another well. It's choosing to act as One acted from the cross long before you: "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they're doing."