Posted February 08, 2016:
Forgiveness Is a Choice

by Marilyn Marsden-Busset.

One bitter winter, my sister lived through a very upsetting, or should I say, earth-shattering experience with her husband. It doesn’t really matter what the story is; we all know of marriages that have been rocked or shattered by all sorts of dramas.

I said to my sister, "Come to Quebec (where I live) for a little holiday."

I became Catholic as an adult, but my sister is a Protestant. However, she didn’t object when I invited her to come with me for a short visit to a monastery hidden away in a remote forest in eastern Quebec.

There, she loved the peace of the chapel and the haunting beauty of the psalms sung by the priests.

There was one visiting priest who spoke English, so I asked her if she would be interested in meeting with him. With heavy feet and a heavy heart, she went.

With many tears, Rose confided her sad story. She confided the weight that she had been burdened with and her desire and incapacity to forgive.

For her, forgiveness was like an empty vessel. The way she saw it, if she really tried, with tremendous effort, every day she could put approximately one tablespoon of forgiveness in the vessel. Then, perhaps, one day, the vessel would be filled, she would have forgiven her husband, and she would be free.

So gently, the priest admonished her. "Actually, forgiveness is more like a line in the sand," he said.

"You are on one side with your anger and resentment. I am asking you to come over to the other side, with one radical step saying, ‘I forgive.’ It doesn’t have to be right this minute, but you have to realize that forgiveness is a choice. Regardless of your emotions, you choose to forgive.

"I am going to pray over you, and bless you, and the prayer of the community will accompany you."

My sister made her choice that day, and I was overjoyed and quite as surprised as she was, at her lightness of heart. She was even singing in the car on the way home.

There was nothing magical about her letting go. She still had to claim her victory. Whenever she felt feelings of bitterness and anger rise within her, she would repeat, "I have forgiven. Have pity, Lord Jesus. Help me."

Those monks, hidden away in their monastery will only discover in heaven this little miracle, a fruit of their prayer and faithfulness.

—The author, a former working guest of MH and a Cana mother, is a foster parent for handicapped children. For an article about this work, click here.


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