The line was unbelievable. I hate lines. We knew where we were going and had raced to get there. How did all these women get there first? Did they not know there were dozens of other classes to choose from? Had they missed the keynote speaker to stand in this line? There were hundreds of them. The line was hardly moving. Our chance of getting in was slim to none. We cast a longing look at the sea of women who got there first and walked away.
It was BYU Women’s Conference. The class was Learning to Forgive. My sister and I were hoping the class would give us a fresh perspective on forgiveness. We were hoping for new tools. One of us was struggling with some particularly thorny issues. We never guessed that forgiveness was on everybody’s "to do" list. It turned out to be the hot button of the conference.
Some years later, I am discovering that forgiveness is still on my “to do” list. I expected forgiveness would get easier with time, but it sometimes feels harder. Have I changed? Is my heart harder? Or have I graduated to harder stuff?
We all have stuff. People have disappointed us. Some have hurt us. Broken promises, unfulfilled expectations, disloyalty, dishonesty are a few of the things that pile up in the corners of our hearts. People let us down. It’s part of life. Stuff happens. Unfortunately that stuff can get in our way.
Some wounds are deeper than others, yet I know that my stuff is not world class. My stuff is ordinary run of the mill stuff, probably much like yours. I am positive that it is healthier to let go and I absolutely know that choosing to forgive speeds the healing. Choosing not to forgive prolongs the suffering. Why, then, is it so hard?
Maybe that answer is different for each of us, but I think part of the problem is not knowing how to forgive? A second part is that we tend to bond with our stuff.
“Bond with my stuff?” you ask. “That’s ridiculous.” And indeed it is. Completely ridiculous. Yet we all do it. I’m pretty sure you do it too. Even though our stuff makes us miserable, we cling to it. We protect it. We visit it, and revisit it. We tell our friends about it. Sometimes we give it more than its fair share of room in our heart, crowding out the other tenants. Should we build extra rooms to accommodate it and make it comfy?
I’m studying forgiveness these days. I’d love your thoughts and experiences. Post your thoughts here, and experiences you can send to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm thinking of writing a book. Of course, the best book on forgiveness has already been written. Maybe you’ve read it. Jesus wrote it.
Stuff hurts. Forgive.