“I am sorry.”
How many times have we said those words with such remorse? And how many times have we said those same words and wishing that things will simply go back to normal?
When I decided to attend the formation session on forgiveness by Father Michael La Guardia, I knew what I was in for. I knew I needed this. But I guess I heard more than what I had expected.
Recently I am beginning to believe that I had lost a best friend because of a falling out. This person, my best friend, was my closest confidant. We became really close while we were in the community, that there were some people who were very intrigued about our closeness that they assumed that there was something between us. And even more so when for quite some time, we started living together because I needed a place to stay that was closer to work so I don’t have to stress myself out with commuting at 3 o’clock in the morning. I knew that with that living arrangement, we would be prone to rumors. What I also knew what that the same arrangement will either bring us closer together, or push us further apart.
Eventually, the latter happened. A string of certain events, from a simple fault that had both of us to blame, to things blowing out of proportion because I was not thinking of the repercussions that it would cause. Because of those issues, my friend treated me like a piece of furniture in the house. Then he had told me straight in the face that I will never be forgiven. Not that I am also blaming him, but I etched the thought in my mind that we were both at fault. For the past several weeks, I am still beating myself up for things that had happened between us. I was so messed up because I was so used to talking and seeing this person all the time, that I didn’t know what to do without that person’s presence.
Father Michael shared the three ways of handling conflict--flee, fight, and forgive. I first decided to fight and stand my ground, in hopes that my persistence in staying will help. I thought wrong, because things became worse. Eventually, I was suddenly put in a situation where I felt that I had no choice but to leave. I had to flee and avoid the stressful situation that was still eating me up from the inside. But for some reason, I still felt broken.
I had forgotten how to forgive, not just the other person, but most especially myself.
“Forgiveness is not just about forgiving the other person. Forgiveness is all about liberation. It is also about making that move on your own in order to free yourself.”
I was still too stubborn to make that move on my own, because for the longest time, I thought I could handle this conflict by fighting to keep our relationship together. I did not realize that there was a third option of forgiving.
“Forgiveness is setting a prisoner free, and discovering that the prisoner was you.”
I was so wrapped up in all the drama, that I never realized that I was also a prisoner. Just because that person had decided not to forgive me, I figured that I will also not forgive him for what he had contributed in the faults. But I guess that’s just my pride talking. And even more, I also couldn’t forgive myself. And I am still beating myself up for it.
“Forgiveness is choosing to let go and renewing that choice daily, hourly, or even more frequently.”
I had been so hung up on the things that had happened, that I didn’t realize that letting go of it was the healthy thing to do. Jesus already knew who would betray Him, who would deny Him, and who would abandon him in the most desperate hours of need, yet He still humbly washed their feet prior to the Last Supper. He knew what was going to happen, yet He forgave them even before they had done it.
“You begin to heal when you let go of past hurts, forgive those who have wronged you, and learn to forgive yourself from your mistakes.”
Father Michael led us into a very cathartic activity at the end of the session. We were given pieces of paper where we had to write the name of the person that we needed to forgive, then we were instructed to drop it into a bowl of water that was passed around. It was like a symbolic washing of the feet. I wrote his name in mine. And the moment the slip of paper touched the water, I actually felt peace.
I took several weeks to find that peace. Yes, one of the obstacles that I had been going through was that I expected things to get better quickly, hoping that things will go back to normal. I learned that I cannot rush this process just so I can get it over with. Journeying with the pain is just as important as the forgiveness itself.
I don’t believe that it’s an accident or mere coincidence that I had decided to attend the formation session this past Sunday. I do believe that it’s a divine appointment that I had found myself there, along with my brothers and sisters in service. The Lord knew what’s inside my heart and He found a way to help me with my healing in order to forgive myself.
“I forgive you.”
“Please forgive me. I am sorry.”