GOD 101: Incremental Forgiveness

My Writing

Incremental Forgiveness by Julia Marks

I have written before about the lesson of re-creation.  I’ve added a hyphen here, because the lesson is not about having fun on a beach, but of creating yourself anew.

It’s about healing.  Deep healing.  Healing of wounds that have slammed into you and taken up real space in your mind and soul.

It’s symbol is the number 8.  The top circle of the number represents going through the experience again with your mind.  The bottom circle of the number represents going through the experience again with your body.

But it’s not like, OK, I’ll just go over this painful experience with my mind and emotions (top circle).  No, it’s a continuing process of being slammed, in little bits this time, with elements of the original experience until an understanding of the original harm is gained.

Over and over and over again they come.  Reminders.  Scents.  Sights.  Sounds.

When I was in my twenties, I was faced with having to do something about the painful memories that I carried with me about my father.  Because they were there.  In front of me.  Beside me.  Circling around back.

And I noticed that things did, in fact, come at me to remind me of that original pain.  To stir things up over and over.

I came up with the idea of “heart stones.”  Those elements that get wedged into our hearts and act like magnets to the world around us: attracting to us the incident that formed them again and again.

A man who goes out with a girl just like his mother, who he disliked for her emotional distance growing up.  A woman who makes friends with women who turn out to be just like the girl who stole her boyfriend back in high school.

When I came to study the lesson of re-creation, I remembered my theorizing on the matter of heart stones.  And I began to look at the top half of the circle as though it were one of those old-fashioned school clocks that snap their ticks around the face.

Minute.  Minute.  Minute.  Minute.

If we notice, we can see our healing process going on within us without our even instigating it.

Talk about grace.

Tick.  Tick.  Tick.

Sight.  Sound.  Scent.

Memory.

Ah.  And there is the memory.  Something we don’t want in our lives, really.  The look in the eyes.  The feel of the hand.  The crush of emotions.  Over and over and over again.

Trauma hurts.

And remembering trauma sometimes feels as though it hurts worse.  Because our defenses are down.  We are relaxed.  Our helmet has been put away on the top shelf of the closet.

We were smiling just a minute ago.

But here is the memory.  Taking us back.  Making us wander around in emotions we thought we had put behind us.

And so I realized the other day that re-creation is a form of forgiveness.  Without the memory, without the roaming, we would not be motivated to put it all to rest.

Once and for all.

And so we become profoundly familiar with the trauma.  Bit by bit.  Tear by tear.

And our understanding develops.  We grow into the experience instead of running away from it.

But it’s even deeper than that.

I’ve learned, mostly the hard way, that people store real information deep within them.  I imagine that the water in our cells are for data storage, and that’s where people hide their evil.  And perhaps that’s where people hide their real pain.  Their shame pain.  Their grief.

Memories don’t get to that pain.  We are very, very good at keeping ourselves to ourselves.  A scent may bring to mind a certain incident that harmed us deeply, but it doesn’t manage to uproot the resentment, the bitterness, the absolute resolve to never forgive.

So this is where the bottom circle of the number 8 comes in.

Nudges.  Not memories.  Real, physical jabs of God’s elbow.  Going, Hey! 

Stumbling down the stairs.  Getting pinned to the back of an elevator.  Feeling your hair being pulled from behind.

And the absolute panic that comes screaming up and out.  The sweat that makes us see it all again.  The clutch of our heart.  The loss of our breath.

There’s a real, tangible difference between revisiting a past event with our minds and emotions, and tripping into a physical replication of a past tragedy.

The key to re-creation is recognizing it.  And appreciating it when you do recognize it.

Instead of trying to shoo it away like an annoying bug, stopping and giving thanks for the memory, or the jerk to our purse, that spins us through time back and back.

Back to the last place in time that we want to be.

And it’s here that we need to take the time to breathe through the experience.  Allow ourselves to understand our innocence.

Or to begin the process of forgiving ourselves for our part in it all.

Forgiveness, in its own way, it just a form of expressed gratitude.

It’s just done incrementally.

Prayer by prayer.

Amen.

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