As the year draws to a close, I find I’m churning on the notion of forgiveness. It’s a tough one.
I grew up Christian; Catholic. I was quite devout and agonized frequently over committing sins and tried hard to forgive other children when they were simply doing as kids do—sometimes being mean. But as an adult, I believe the notion of “Turn the Other Cheek” has lead to much emotional abuse in many people’s lives—including mine. Jesus said to his disciples, “How many times must you forgive your brother? Not seven, but seventy times seven…” (or something like that.)
Jesus, with all do respect, if I have to forgive someone THAT many times, I’m going to forgive them—but do it far away and avoid that person at all costs.
2008 might as well be called The Year Courtney Figures Out Forgiveness. Not that I’m going to get it figured out in the next three weeks, but the Gods have certainly provided me with plenty of fodder to test that one out through a number of slams to the soul. Not the kind of hurt that is appeased with a couple of beers and a belly laugh with good friends. The kind of hurt that wakes you from a dead sleep, sitting up in bed in tears, like the 9 of Swords in the Waite-Smith deck; the kind that requires pilgrimages, meditation and therapy to overcome.
This was a lot of forgiving to do. And how do we do it?
Brid, my Goddess (and an AWESOME GODDESS SHE IS!!! Xoxoxoxoxo!!!), said to me one morning, “The problem with Turn the Other Cheek is not just that it invites people to repeat their patterns toward you, it sends a message to all those around you that that kind of behavior is acceptable.” I understood then that letting a wound roll off of you with an, “’Sokay” or “Whatever, don’t worry about it” perpetuates the behavior. When we call someone on their shit, at the right time, and say, “NO. What you did was wrong,” sends the message to the world that those actions do not belong anywhere, with anyone.
So, how do we forgive without condoning the action?
This page remained blank long after I typed that last sentence. I fooled around with the editing of this page a bit and found I still don’t have the answer. Duh. Like the ability to articulate the formula for forgiveness is just going to roll right out of my fingers and onto this screen. It’s not.