Forgiven and Whole

Today during Ministry to the Incarcerated class, we watched the one-hour documentary "As We Forgive." It takes place in Rwanda and is centered around the theme of forgiveness. In 1994 there was a horrible genocide that took place in Rwanda. People watched their entire families killed in the terrible ways before their eyes. I cannot imagine what these people have lived and witnessed. 1 million people were killed in 100 days. And now, 14 years later, Hutus and Tutsis are living in the same villages and communities once again. There is so much pain and woundedness that remains to be healed, but progress is being made. This particular documentary focused on three women who lost family members during the genocide. The men who killed their family members now live near them. These men, weighed down by the terrible knowledge that they have taken human lives, came to the women and asked for forgiveness. A mediator was also part of the process. It is a very moving film to say the least.

Watching the documentary this afternoon reminded me that humans are capable of such extremes. Human beings are able to kill other human beings. What a bizarre and cruel reality. And also, on the other end of the extreme, human beings are able to forgive other human beings for the most heinous of crimes. Forgiveness is a concept that defies explanation in so many ways. We know forgiveness is imperative to a healthy life, but it takes many forms and comes at different times; it can never be forced.

I hold grudges. I don't want to be the kind of person who holds grudges, but all too often I do. I harbour hurts for decades. I proclaim forgiveness, and I try to embody it, but there is a piece of me that holds quite tightly to feelings of betrayal and loss. I created this blog to be a space for us to discuss how we might more fully breathe life. I'm realizing today that the ability to forgive (others, ourselves, and God) might be a key foundational concept to life breathing. How can we take deep life-giving breaths when we are weighed down with anger, regret, hatred and bitterness (even if we are experts at hiding our true feelings)?

I believe forgiveness in its most authentic and complete form is not easy or quick. It is a journey, and sometimes it is a journey on which we encounter all sorts of pain and difficult feelings we've been avoiding.

In spite of the immensity of the challenge, the journey of forgiveness is probably one of the most important pieces of our life puzzles. It's the gateway to an abundant life. It is my prayer that today we would all be filled with the courage to take another step toward wholeness, reminded that we are never ever alone.

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