During the drive home this past weekend, I got to listen to a Catholic Radio Show. I didn't catch the name of the host or the guest, but the topic was on the virtue of forgiveness. This really piqued my interest, because there was an issue I was pondering how to forgive for. It seems to me that some of the biggest burdens people carry, especially in terms of physical weight, is that they don't forgive. And sometimes it's really easy to understand.
One of the callers asked the host how she should seek help from the church (the Catholic Church) when it was a priest who caused the grievance by their act(s) of molestation. It was unclear if she had been abused, or someone she loved. But regardless, it was clear that the question caught the guest off guard, despite his best efforts at answering it. He seemed to be pulling at straws, trying to find a way for his Church to redeem this woman from her pain. All the while, I'm waiting for some mention of the true Redeemer. There was none.
This gave me pause for reflection. What would I have said, in that instance? Is not the purpose of life to become reconciled with Christ? We all cause pain to someone else at some point or another. And we all receive pain at some point too. How do we forgive?
Tonight I was also getting caught up on some tv shows I missed. One of the shows, Once Upon a Time, showed Snow White telling the Evil Queen for the thousandth time that she was sorry for whatever she had done that made the Queen hate her so much. The Queen was calling for a truce, which required Snow White to eat an apple that would put her in a living coffin of sorts. To put the burden to rest, Snow White ate the poisoned apple, trusting that the Queen would finally bury the hatchet and let everyone in the land live in peace, including Prince Charming, who Snow loved the most.
Well it didn't happen.
The Evil Queen still hasn't forgiven Snow White, and an evil curse covered the land for many, many years. It's startling how powerful forgiveness is, and when it's not applied, the one who carries its lack bears the burden–in this case, it was carried by the Queen.
But I believe everyone carries it. Every person involved in the story carried the burden of living under the Queen's curse. The energy of the issue was still there for everyone to feel the effects of.
In another random story, I got an email from Dr. Laura, who is vigilant against sex offenders. She often highlights stories and letters from children (now adults) who have been abused by another. The bottom line is that there is no forgiveness, and she encourages this view. I don't know what to think of this. But as the Catholic radio show guest pointed out, "There is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation". I would never actively suggest someone go reconcile with their abuser. That's up to them. But forgiveness? By encouraging someone to not forgive is encouraging them to continue carrying an awfully heavy burden. Even when abuse is not involved, to hold out forgiving someone so that they feel more pain from what they did is just cruel. Adding pain to all involved, holding grudges and withholding forgiveness is evil. Take it from the Queen.
The bottom line? Christs asks us to forgive, even our offenders. It's something He can help us with, if we let Him.