I discovered this basically by accident, by the way of learning something in a way we learn all great things we learn. We cannot forgive unless we feel for the perpetrator who acted against us. We cannot let them off unless we see in ourselves the same propensity to afflict that pain. As they have done, we also are capable. We must see that.
We need to see that we’re the same as everyone else, and that we’re angriest when we face the sins that most afflict ourselves.
Of course, these are difficult things to explain and to understand.
That which I cannot change about me, which I hate about myself most, angers me most about others, because I, myself, am thwarted.
I cannot forgive what I see is unforgiveable in me. And that, too, I often cannot see.
I cannot forgive what I cannot see God forgiving in me.
I will not allow safe passage to anyone or anything when that safe passage is forbidden for me.
I cannot lead others in a thing I previously have not learned.
“I” is the limitation. But God wants us connected, brought face-to-face, with these parts we despise. In connecting with others we must first come into connection with ourselves.
The Role of Empathy
Empathy is connection, illumination, revelation. It’s the lightbulb moment. Empathy is the electricity of compassion energising love. Empathy is a miracle, for without it everything of virtue in this unreachable place seemed out of grasp. Empathy grounded reason in a language the self could understand. Empathy is the “AHA” moment.
It is sad that empathy, however, is often so fleeting. We feel its connectivity like the brewing of a sneeze, and within seconds at times it’s gone. It explains why forgiveness, like happiness, can be so elusive.
Forgiveness in certain unreconciled situations is the hardest thing we’ll ever do. Some circumstances we’re so resistant to empathy we cannot look forward for the habit of looking back.
If we can only see the folly in our enemy is a folly we hate in ourselves. Yet, if we ask God to make it plain to our sight, He will reveal it if it’s there. We must ask God to connect us to these truths, and the way to such connection points is through empathy.
The blessed connection of empathy is the maturity of acceptance; the wisdom of understanding.
Fear as a Hidden Barrier to Forgiveness
And here’s a reason why forgiveness is worth the conquest:
Forgiveness sets us free from a past that causes us fear in the present.
Fear is softened by the warmth of love. Love is a brave frontier forged by faith. Faith is the key to a future forgiveness. Faith lets go, allowing forgiveness.
Fear is the only barrier to our destiny. Forgiveness compels us in bravery to keep moving forward by faith.
Even if we’re still some distance from that forgiveness we believe we may at some time have, we have hope, and in faith one day we’ll come to enjoy our achieving it, by God’s grace.
Grace that believes is also a grace that empowers, meeting a divine grace that appears by night, making the impossible a reality in the morning.
Such is our faith, by God’s mysterious provision, able to connect ground with the stars.