Forgiveness... can you imagine?
Updated: Oct 30, 2019
There was a time of my life when I listened to the song “It’s Quiet Uptown” from the musical "Hamilton" on repeat. It’s one of my favorite songs – and it’s horribly sad. It’s about a father who lost his son and is seeking forgiveness from his wife.
There were some days that I would listen to it without stop on the way to work, to and from church, in the car with friends. One day, after my friend was heartbroken about a guy, I played it for her while she weeped in my passenger seat.
It’s just one of those songs.
There are a lot of reasons why I like it. To put it simply, it is beautiful. There are few songs that capture the beauty and pain of grief as exquisitely as this one and the way that the notes play my heart like a violin.
The song was a soundtrack during a time of my life when I felt a sense of loss, I was going through my own kind of unimaginable.
“Pain is like a ball,” my friend said. “You’re holding onto the ball, and I’m worried that you are going to throw it at people.”
“You need to forgive. You need to give your pain to God,” she said.
I just sat there, soaking in her words. She was right. How could I not have noticed this? How did I not see that I was clinging to the pain like a security blanket. Like the last cookie in the box.
I tried to write about it for months. I thought that writing about it would set me free. But every time the words came out, there wasn’t something right about them. They felt like excuses for holding onto something that I should have let go of long ago.
There’s something so scary about that. Letting go. Letting God define our future instead of giving that power to the past. It’s like we’re afraid that we’ll forget it ever happened. That the past, the thing that built who we are today, is going to disappear with the shake of our hands, etch-a-sketch style.
When we let our pain go, it leaves us open handed. We no longer face the future expecting the disappointment of what was. We are hopeful and empty handed, and maybe a little more humble and honest.
I imagine that the act of forgiveness looks a lot like breathing.
Exhaling pain and hurt and any sense of entitlement that we feel because of it. I am still learning to breathe well. I have this way of taking little short breaths in and out instead of deep, full ones.
I keep taking life in sips instead of gulps.
It’s not easy either. This forgiveness thing. There are days where I need to remind myself to exhale because the alternative path isn’t worth it. If we hold our breathe in and cling to pain as an excuse for where we are or who we are, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The act of forgiveness is a decision to shift our perspective from what was to what could be, and there’s something terrifying about that because now we are taking responsibility for what’s next. We are acknowledging that the future is unknown and not pre-determined by the past.
It's like tidying our hearts. We let go of the things we are clinging to that take the space meant for something new. What people don't tell you is that forgiveness is not a one and done kind of deal. Sometimes it is. Sometimes we can let the emotional clutter build to the point that we can't take it anymore, but there's another option. We can practice forgiveness on the daily.
The key is to do it. Exhale. Breath. Let it go. Like the Hamilton song I love so much, we can forgive on repeat.