There are dozens of books on forgiveness.  Self-help type books that walk you through forgiving someone.  Jesus talks about forgiveness.  “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times!”  (Matthew 18:22 – exclamation point – mine)  We hear about someone who has suffered at the hands of an abuser and then to bravely declare that they have forgiven their tormentor.
But what does forgiveness feel like?  What is it like to truly forgive someone who has betrayed us?
I’ve experienced what I would call true forgiveness twice.  In both instances it was a physical feeling as well as an overwhelming feeling of compassion for the one who harmed me.
One day I was walking home when I noticed a man walking ahead of me.  I slowed a bit, because I recognized him and I didn’t want to speak to him.  He had sat in my living room and lied to me.  I had confronted him with the lie, because I had made some phone calls and knew that what he was saying was not true.  He was in a position of authority and my guess was that he felt his authority would make me believe him no matter what.  I watched him walk down the street.  He had recently lost two family members one of whom suffered a terrible illness.  Instead of seeing the man who had betrayed me, I saw a man in pain who had lost loved ones.  My heart suddenly filled with compassion for him and I knew that I had forgiven him.  I walked in our home and announced to my husband that I had forgiven this man.  He looked as surprised as I felt!
I don’t think everyone’s experience is the same, but I do know this:  once the heart forgives, it fills with compassion for the one who has hurt you.

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