It's easier to start a trend than it is to stop one. Stil, some trends need to be stopped.
While reviewing my tweets, I came across a quote from Oscar Wilde: "Always forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them so much." Oscar Wilde is not someone I would associate with Christian teachings or theology. Why do so many well meaning people quote him on this topic? Is his statement true, or even useful?
At first, the comment sounds a little humorous, like something that might generate a little chuckle in my throat, or a knowing nod of my head. What happens when I think about this statement more deeply?
Forgiveness is a gift I give myself, not my enemy. Perhaps my enemy isn't even sorry for the offense, doesn't recognize it, and would only hurt me more if I let them into the closer areas of my life. I no longer care about "annoying" my enemy. I care about healing my heart and my soul from the damage done by an enemy.
Forgiveness frees me to say: You, dear offender, owe me nothing. I no longer look to you for a resolution of the problem we shared. Only God empowers me to really and truly feel this way. Otherwise, these are just empty words, phony, a self-deception waiting for exposure.
Forgiveness enables me to stop a trend, a bad trend that only leads to more and more deeply felt pain. How I forgive may vary from situation to situation, from person to person, but my orientation is to forgive. I no longer care about annoying my enemy; my focus is elsewhere. One day I will wake up and realize I haven't thought about that offense for days or for weeks. That is my assurance of true forgiveness. Forgiveness makes room in my mind for something beyond that injury.
Near the end of the year, near the end of a decade, I am willing to wipe some slates clean. This doesn't mean I "start over", knowing nothing and remembering nothing. It means I embrace the possibility of living differently because I voluntarily chose to forgive.
God empowers me to stand in front of the avalanche, raise my hand, and say "STOP." Trend ended, game over.