When it is a struggle to forgive and forget consider what is not known
Sister Elise Cholewinski
Every person is a walking story.
As I reflect on my own life and listen to many adults, I am finding that one of the most stressful things we struggle with is letting go of resentments. People really do want to forgive and they don’t want to carry grudges, but the hurt and pain of past experiences still has a hold on them. We so desire to let go of memories that haunt us, and their consequent feelings, but they continue to linger along the edges of our minds and hearts.
The Scripture readings for this Sunday’s liturgy present us with a difficult challenge. In the first reading, from the Book of Sirach (27:30-28:7), the writer asks, “Could anyone nourish anger toward another and expect healing from the Lord?” Jesus tells us in the Gospel (Matthew 18:21-35) that each of us must forgive our brothers and sisters from the heart.
I have personally discovered that when someone has hurt me deeply it helps to ask myself two questions: What do I know about that person? What does that person know about me? When I start listing the things that we don’t know about each other, I realize that what happened to me is a small part of a bigger picture, for there is an aura of mystery that surrounds every person. As I ponder these two questions, my mind can approach the hurtful incident with greater clarity and my heart can begin to open to greater compassion.
Each person is a walking story. When we can read the pages of another’s life with some degree of understanding, we will learn how to forgive from the heart.