Thursday, June 23, 2011

Forgiveness Is A Choice, Not A Happening.

I was listening to an AA speaker last evening, while doing yoga, and one thing he said really resonated with me. He was answering a question posed by an audience member, about forgiveness.

He replied that when he was talking to sponsees about forgiveness, and wrongs done to them, he'd ask: "Can you imagine yourself 5 years from now, would you have forgiven them by that time, do you think?"

Invariably, the reply, after some thought, is, "Yes."

He then asks, "Why wait?"
(I could hear the ripple of surpise, and appreciative murmurs, run through the audience.)
The speaker repeated, "Why wait? So you can marinate in your unhappiness, and be a victim? If you can see yourself forgiving them sometime in the future, why not do that right now, and then you have your freedom from the resentment and anger?"

Forgiveness has been a powerful tool for me, to increase my daily serenity. When I accept that other people are trying to function with their own confused thinking and character defects, just as I've done, and continue to do, I can choose forgiveness.

I used to think that forgiveness would just ...occur, after I'd reached a certain place in recovery. That has proven not to be the case. Forgiveness is a choice. As I let go of my old beliefs that I have the right to know what another should do, say, or think, forgiveness becomes an easy choice. It's not something I do for the other person, as I once thought. It's a choice I make to free myself - from anger, from resentment, from Victimville. I lived there for a long, long time, and I'm not interested in moving back. They say you can't go home again, well, I'm grateful that through the practise of Al-Anon, not only do I not go back there, I've pretty much bulldozed the entire place - nothing to see there, anymore. Blue sky, green grass, the occasional bird or deer wandering through, but all those buildings I'd constructed and maintained with rage and resentment, they're gone, with not even a foundation stone to mark their place.

That's freedom.


  1. This is such an amazingly beautiful post. A message I needed to hear today. Thank you. If you don't mind I am going to link to it from my blog.

  2. I've always struggled with forgiveness, but that has to be the most helpful, insightful articles I've read. I love the take on not going back home to Victimville. So apt. One for my toolbox. Thank you.


  3. Victimville! I love that (I mean the word!). So true, your words today. We seem to be on the same wavelength. Forgiveness is a gift to myself. I didn't "get" that for a long time. I also needed divine help along the way. Being free and serene is the gift of forgiveness. Took me years to grasp that. Good post.


  4. I like what you wrote about Victimville. Holding all that resentment and ill feelings about others for so long truly made me sick. It is good to remember that every day is a chance to forgive and move on. Thanks for this great post.

  5. This is excellent. I love the re-framing. I'm not sure who linked this up to SS, but I'm glad. I plan to share this on FB. Thanks.

  6. This is a great post, something I never thought of yet makes perfect sense.

  7. I LOVE that thought on forgiveness. It changes the entire perspective of whatever the situation is.

    Forgiveness is a powerful thing!

  8. Great post. I have been the victim many times before and finally realized too that forgiveness was all about getting me moving on (and out of Victimville!) and not so much about something I was doing for the other person. And what weight was removed with that revelation! Love this! Thank you.

  9. You have no idea how timely this post of forgiveness is for me. I am having to deal with a major betrayal by my husband and decide whether to move forward and forgive. Someone at Al-Anon just said to me last night "At some point, you're going to have to decide if you can ever forgive him. If not, the marriage has no chance and you should tell him so he can move on." I've been struggling with whether forgiveness let's him off the hook, but maybe forgiveness let's ME off the hook instead. Maybe if I can see myself forgiving him 5 years from now, I can see myself asking my Higher Power to help me start forgiveness today.