Digging Deeper: Forgiveness

Just Forgive (Inspired by Mary Karen Read)

YouTube video by Loaki00

“When deep injury is done to us, we never recover until we forgive… Forgiveness does not change the past. But it does enlarge the future.”
—Mary Karen Read (Mary’s final journal prior to being killed in the Virginia Tech Massacre on Monday, April 16, 2007)

As I dig deeper into my current work in progress, a novel, I’m realizing that one of the glaring unsolved issues between my characters is forgiveness. Really bad stuff happens. As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, I can’t just skip past it to the happy ending.

Since this realization, I can feel myself moving toward avoidance mode. Instead of working on my novel, I choose instead to blog or read blogs. The excuse I give myself: “I just don’t want to go there today.”

Forgiveness is serious business.

And now the issue of forgiveness keeps invading my world.

For example, after drafting most of this blog post, I discovered the “Just Forgive” video above on the home page of the KeepTheFaith.com website. It took a little while to recover after watching that powerful work of art.

A few weeks back, I was listening to the radio while cleaning house—a segment by the folks at KeepTheFaith.com. The hosts were discussing the following Bible passage about forgiveness:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
—Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)

Radio host:  “You know how you run into someone who has done wrong against you—perhaps it’s a family member, or someone in your circle of friends—and every time you see them, you remember just how much they hurt you. It brings all that pain back in an instant. I always thought that passage about forgiving seventy-seven times meant you just had to keep on forgiving people. But sometimes you have to forgive one person for the same thing seventy-seven times. It’s hard work.”

A song from my teenage and college days has been in my head ever since: Whiteheart’s “Seventy Times Seven.” Check it out:

How Many Times (Seventy Times Seven) Lyrics
by Whiteheart

Lord, I got no more tears to cry
Someone has hurt me, done me wrong
I’m walkin’ wounded, oh
Lord, this pain is a knife of fire
Why does it have to turn out this way
Why do the innocent seem to pay?

How many times
Must I stand in the waves
of this crashing sea?
How many times
Must I forgive all the hurt
That’s been done to me
Let the jury go, set the sinner free?
Whoa oh, seventy times seven

Lord, I really don’t understand
Well I’m lookin’ round
for some stones to throw
You’re tellin’ me I should let it go

How many times
Must I stand in the waves
of this crashing sea?
How many times
I hear what you’re saying inside of me
But I don’t understand the mystery of
Seventy times seven

How many times
Have You wept from the anguish
of all my shame?
How many times
Have I nailed You up on the cross of pain?
You bled from a broken heart
and I was to blame
Seventy times seven

Over and over again
Seventy times seven
Lord, You know just how hard I have tried
Seventy times seven
Gotta see that I’m hurting inside
Seventy times seven
Don’t You know that my pride is at stake
Seventy times seven
So tell me how much one should take
Seventy times seven

I can avoid this subject no longer. I hate to admit it, but working on my novel is forcing me to work through my own forgiveness issues. I wish I could be the consummate writing professional who could separate the work of writing from my personal life.

But it is impossible. Writing is work of the soul. You can’t separate your soul from your writing.

Do you think you can keep writing separate from your personal life?

Has writing forced you to come face to face with something you didn’t want to deal with?

How do you feel about having to forgive someone seventy-seven times?