A wise friend told me a few years ago that there are three kinds of forgiveness – absolution, forbearance, release. I was amazed at how ground-breaking and life-changing those words meant to me. I grew up in a Catholic environment where the only forgiveness I knew of was God’s absolution for my sins given by the priest whenever I go to confession. Since that was my experience, I didn't know of any other way to forgive others til then.
It’s complete forgiveness and everything is back to where it was before. Total love and trust is regained as if the sin, mistake or misdeed didn’t happen. And for many years I practiced that. Over time though, a growing number of experiences made it extremely hard for me to do just that.
It’s forgiveness that moves on with some restraint and control over yourself vis a vis the person who hurt you. Perhaps you can’t completely take that person out of your life as he or she may be a relative, a family friend, a work colleague. And so, the person remains in your life but the relationship never returns to the same level as before. You have forgiven the person but you don't want to be as close to them anymore. And that is okay.
It’s forgiveness while liberating yourself from the person. It’s forgiveness that lets go of the relationship. It’s learning the lesson hard and making sure the person doesn’t influence you any further. It’s forgiveness that forgives self for even letting oneself be so hurt and controlled by the person.
Release is the hardest type to learn. It seems so brutal and unChristian-like. Maybe even inhumane. Then again, what is life if not to be lived in harmony with oneself and others? What does one become when controlled by people? What is love if not for the strength to be what we have been called for?
Learning how to forgive and release is most liberating. It’s an acknowledgement of a relationship meant to teach a life lesson. It’s an experience at being broken and learning to rebuild. It’s moving on with life a bit wiser, kinder to self, perhaps a little more jaded, but working at being stronger and better.
About this post: I started writing this sometime in April 2018 but somehow forgot all about it. Found it in my files today, Oct 22, 2018, indeed a more fitting day to finish and post this as I've been thinking about a friendship that's gone. Might it be that God is telling me something?