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How do you forgive when you can’t forget?

When I read Lydia’s story of the power of forgiveness, a sentence that jumped out at me was, “Should anything ever happen to John, I would never be able to bear it.” How often do these words run through our minds as we consider what life would be like without our loved ones! Yet some of us do have to bear that which cannot be borne, to deal with losses that seem insurmountable. How do we heal the gaping wounds left by tragedy?
   Forgiveness is a process that takes time. Lydia mentions several emotions that were part of her journey to forgiveness:depression, resentment, and contempt for Jason. These are normal reactions and they don’t disappear all at once. Throughout the cycle of forgiveness, negative emotions will recur. Think of the scabbed kneesof childhood. A knee would be healing and then we’d fall: fresh blood,new pain, and more time needed for another scab to form. Healing our hurt is just the same – we are doing fine, feeling like running again and then BOOM – we are overcome with our loss. Many things can act as triggers. It could be an anniversary or birthday, the scent worn by your loved one suddenly wafting across a restaurant, the sound of a favorite song on the radio. It isn’t just a psychological reaction;it’s felt in the body as if there had been a physical blow and suddenlywe are reliving the anguish of Good Friday and our initial loss. How dowe find the promise of resurrection in the midst of this pain?
   The support of our Church community helps us make this intellectual decision to forgive. Lydia spoke to her confessor and was strengthened in her resolve to forgive. As we confront our own issues of pain and healing, resentment and forgiveness during this Easter Season, let us ask for an increase of faith to follow in the path of Divine Love.

Scripture for the Journey to Forgiveness

“And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” Luke 17:4-5

If anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure (not to exaggerate) to all of you. This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person, so that on the contrary you should forgive and encourage him instead, or else the person may be overwhelmed by excessive pain. Therefore, I urge you to reaffirm yourlove for him. 2 Corinthians 2:5-8

by Dr. Cathleen McGreal

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