Forgiving again…

The last time I wrote here—a little over a week ago, I said these words: Paul Buckman? I may have to wrestle with this over and over again, but today, I forgive you.

I wonder how many who read this the first time around caught the word today.

I.

We like to think forgiveness means forgetting. And often it should. A slight or slur forgiven four years earlier ought to soon become something of little consequence and certainly not an event or circumstance to be trotted back out again and again.

In the great biblical chapter of love (1 Corinthians 13, NIV), Paul says love… keeps no record of wrongs.
And in that sense, forgiveness, love, and forgetfulness all become intertwined.

Forgiving Paul Buckman can never mean forgetting.
There is no way short of a full frontal lobotomy to ever forget the events of October 10, 2011.
Not on this side of eternity.
And maybe not ever.

From my perspective, heaven’s promise to wipe away all tears does not mean all past heartaches will be forgotten. However, I believe it does mean the sting, pain, and hurt will all be taken away.

So, as I said before, forgiving Paul Buckman can never mean forgetting.
The consequences, fall out, and ripple effects are ever before us.
There are empty places at the table.
There are tears for the missing.
There are hurts at key moments and significant events with the absence of those who have gone on before.

Indeed, every time a little seven year old boy says, I miss my mom, there is no way to forget.

Forgiveness does not always mean forgetting.
Somethings just cannot be done.

So what then?
How do you forgive that which utterly destroys?
How do you forgive an obscenity that most cannot even imagine?
How do you forgive a nightmare scenario that becomes reality?
How do you forgive a life altering event that cannot possibly be forgotten?

How?

And maybe that is your question too.
Maybe you have never and will never experience anything like our family tragedy.
Maybe.

But maybe just maybe you still know the pain of unfairness.
Maybe you have known what it felt like to be treated unkindly and condescendingly.
Maybe you have experienced insult and slander.
Maybe you have experienced harsh attitudes and harsher actions from someone who was supposed to love you.

Maybe.

What then?
How do you forgive when you cannot forget.

Letting something go is a cliched concept that is easier said than done.

Instead, the key for me is today.

Paul Buckman? I may have to wrestle with this over and over again, but today, I forgive you.
Today, I choose forgiveness instead of bitterness.
Today, I choose peace and tranquility.
Today, I choose life instead of the despair of anger and rage.
Today, I choose to live.

I cannot ever forget the horror that invaded our lives.
But I can choose to live a life of love.

Once more, the Apostle Paul says, love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I choose love with the hope and perseverance it brings.

Today, I choose to forgive.
I choose to live.
I choose love.

How about you? What will you choose?

Les Ferguson, Jr.

33 thoughts on “Forgiving again…

  1. This is a wonderful post. I know that it cannot be easy to forgive… at least not in your circumstance. So thank you for reminding us of what love is. And thank you for this great post!

    Grace and Peace,

    Rex

  2. Thank you, sir, for your words and for nurturing the hope that forgiveness can abide in even the most unimaginable moments. It gives me courage and pause to imagine where else in this hurting world forgiveness can abide and transform. Grace and peace.

  3. Les, I often think of your family, and the Browns, with heartfelt compassion. I think you have stated the key to forgiving in such extremely painful situations–or any situation. One-day-at-a-time! That’s the key! Also, by choosing to forgive. You’re right, that’s the only we can truly go on living. Thanks for giving us the key to forgiveness.

  4. Forgiveness is something I wrestle with, too. I loathe the clichés to “forgive and forget,” “just move on,” “you need to forgive right now,” “God won’t forgive you until you forgive,” etc. Forgiveness takes time and it is hard work. Great reflections on forgiveness. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I don’t think that the forgetting part of forgiveness, which God is able to do, is humanly possible. We just have to walk in forgiveness, rejecting the pain every time it comes to mind.

  6. Les,
    I appreciate your encouraging comments so much. I myself have often wondered if I will ever be able to forget the hateful crime committed against our son. It has now been 19 years. Although I knew I had to forgive as you said traumatic situations just cannot leave your memory.

  7. Very sorry for all of the events that culminated in Oct 2011…and so grateful that you are a living, breathing, real person who is sharing with others as you walk through the the whole process of choosing to live again.

      • So true Les. Not sure that the proverbial saying “Time heals all wounds” is true but time does seem to put some space between us and painful experiences. And while I have not forgotten those old pains, I find that I do not allow them to control me the ways that they used to because I do not remember them as much.

        • I can definitely understand what you are saying. Our losses are hard to not remember. In fact, I don’t ever want to forget those who have gone on to heaven. But, I do want a healthy way to cope and live. For me, forgiveness isn’t about forgetting. It is about living a life of grace and peace.

  8. Im very “thank-you”that God gives us a new day,everyday that we live. Life would be too hard to live anyway except in the present. He knows that,doesnt he. Prayers,Vicki

  9. I read this quote the other day, Les, and know that’s it’s true, unlike howmost people view forgiveness and “feel” about it:

    Forgiveness is not an emotion, it’s a decision. ~ Randall Worley

    I have struggled with this issue much myself in a good many different scenarios throughout my life, some of them ongoing, which for me makes it doubly hard to deal with.

    The deep pain resulting from one person in my past came crashing down around me three days ago when I learned he had just died unexpectedly of a heart attack. I was so shaken and sickened by the remembrance of his last parting words to me some 26 years ago from this man who had been a close friend, brother in Christ, next door neighbor, all for 15 years of daily contact, that I had nightmares that night about it that caused me to call out in the night, waking Tom, who had to comfort me in my tears.

    I have struggled with forgiveness in just this one matter for all these years and had come to think I had completely forgiven him (& his wife, by acquiescence in her silence about the hurtful things he did to my daughter, me and my other children), but it imploded in me as fresh as if it were yesterday.

    I had not seen or talked with him all these years and they moved far away, so I had no contact with them at all. I’ve often wondered since if he (or she) had ever changed or had regrets about what he/they had done and were sorry. I know some things happened in their own lives after that that could have – should have – brought an awareness to him/them about what I was going through at that time and how their actions adversely impacted me & my children. Now I will never know.

    The next day, I found this second quote about forgiveness, which I put up on Facebook:

    A wise man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value of time. ~ Samuel Johnson

    I don’t know about the “making haste” to forgive, because I don’t think it is in me. (Any of us? I’m not sure.) But, it did remind me that to long carry the burden and lug the heavy cross around of anger, rage and feelings of total helplessness (which I have found goes along with not forgiving – have you?), is not the answer and that our time – and others’ time – on earth is TOO short to live that way.

    Under that quote on FB, I made the following comment: I have those in MY life I need to forgive today. Do any of you?

    That brings me back to the ONE main point of your post, Les. That this is something we must do TODAY and every single separate day!! Over. And over. And over, again. Today. Again.

    Thank you for your thoughts and the good discussion from your readers in the comments. As always.

    God Bless you & Becki & the boys!! I still pray for you on very remembrance.

    Dee

  10. Les,
    When one’s life is ripped apart without warning, it is impossible to forget, and it takes time to forgive in a meaningful way. You cannot forget your wife and child; you cannot imagine away how they were taken from you. Having the ability to minister and to work made almost impossible is unforgettable as well; those who have not experienced wrenching loss do not understand.You need to grieve; the Psalms of lament in the Bible demonstrate that this is a spiritually healthy and acceptable course of action. I will pray for healing and growth for you, in fact will pray immediately after writing this. Be well, my brother.

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