So you folks know I'm struggling - hard - with this whole forgiveness thing. It's been months, and I've only recently acknowledged that the idea of forgiving him is even negotiable. Outside of Our Lady, two things have been instrumental in pushing me towards forgiveness (something I have not yet given, I admit): one is Heaven, and the other is Hell.
Heaven's been reminding me of my own need for forgiveness. Christ not only forgave me, He died on the Cross to hit home the point. And He still - STILL - reaches out with forgiveness in spite of the litany of sins I've committed a litany of times. He offers me mercy so that I am free to offer it to others.
Hell, on the other hand... how does Hell help me forgive? Do I think I might go to hell if I don't forgive?
While I do believe that I'll find myself there if I don't forgive, that's actually not the driving motivation. The driving motivation is the fact that JOHN might find himself there one day. After all, he openly despises the Church. He broke every single one of his wedding vows. He treated me in a way that is beyond abhorrent, and he's done something that will leave an indelible hurt in our boys that will follow them all their lives. Given the importance of family and the sacredness of Matrimony and the duty parents have to properly form the children entrusted to them, these are very grave matters that will demand justice at Judgement.
And that is what motivates me to keep up the fight to forgive.
When I think of John standing before the Throne of God and having to answer for these things, I honestly shudder. John, himself, will see what he's done and may well want to cast himself into the flames (since the soul chooses Hell, not God). Would my forgiveness lend him a word of mercy - a word of hope - when he most needed it? If I was able to forgive him, could God, too?
Of course God can forgive all things, but only if the person has faith in His Mercy. Will my example be what he needs to instill that hope at Judgement? It certainly won't right now, because I haven't been a very good example.
For as much as his very presence makes me want to spit bile, I do not want to see him in Hell. The Holy Spirit has painted quite the picture for me of what that Judgement would look like, and in those moments - when it feels like Life or Death - I know I'd immediately stand between John and God and plead his case. In that instant, I'd be the hero, 100% without question.
But I can't be an instant hero; God wants more. In this situation, I need to be the scrappy workhorse who bites the bit and shoves forward, one tiny inch at a time. Forgiveness, in this circumstance, cannot be instant. It needs to be given, over and over, so that John really learns what it means to know mercy. He doesn't deserve it, but nor do I.
So while I can't go with him to Judgement, my forgiveness can. My mercy can. My example can. And those things, together, could give John the faith he needs to trust that God's mercy is enough to wash away even his sins.
Logically, I'm there; I've just got to find a way to do so in practice, not just in theory. Faith might make forgiveness possible, but it certainly doesn't make it easy.
Oh Catholicism. This is why you're such a hated religion. In theory, You're awesome. In practice, You're like swimming through a wood chipper.
You are the Love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things... even unto the Cross.