I was listening to an old video with pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber the other day about forgiveness and it really blew my mind and changed my perspective all in 1 minute and 58 seconds. You see, I have been struggling with the concept of forgiveness for years. In my mind, depending on the level of heinousness of the act, forgiving someone is liken to being a proverbial doormat, offering tacit consent to whatever happened and opening the door for more misfortune in the future with no recourse. Instead I just hold on to my hate as if it offers me a strength or some kind of shield that I didn’t have when the original act of harm occurred.
According to her, I have it all wrong. She says that when someone harms us, we stay connected to that harm by a metaphorical chain, unless we chose to break it by forgiving them. She explains that forgiveness is like an act of fidelity to an evil-combatting campaign. It is not an act of niceness and has nothing to do with being a door mat. Forgiveness allows us to grab the proverbial bolt cutters and permanently sever the chain that is binding us to the mistreatment and truly be free for the first time. If we don’t sever that chain and let go of the hate, we run the risk of absorbing the worst part of our enemy and risk becoming just like them. It has nothing to do with tacit consent. It just means that we are officially refusing to be connected to the original harm anymore. She says that free people are the “dangerous ones,” but not dangerous in the way you might think. Free people are dangerous only to the manipulators and the inflictors of cruelty in the world because free people refuse to be controlled by the chains of resentment. Free people laugh more and are not easily offended. Free people are able to find more joy and live fuller lives and are able to shine through any darkness. I think I am ready to give freedom another try. How about you?