By Kristen MacKenzie
© 2015 Diversity Rules Magazine and Kristen MacKenzie.  All Rights Reserved.

kristen_MacKristen MacKenzie lives on Vashon Island in a quiet cabin where the shelves are filled with herbs for medicine-making, the floor is open for dancing, and the table faces the ocean, waiting for a writer to pick up the pen. Her work has appeared in Brevity, Rawboned Journal, GALA Magazine and Extract(s) Daily Dose of Lit.

I have a problem with forgiveness stories. I don’t think I believe them. I believe the writers want them to be true, want so badly there isn’t room to accept that maybe forgiveness doesn’t work that way, one and done.

Most religions teach forgiveness as a core principle of a life lived with peace but I think Christianity is the most to blame for the kinds of stories painted with sticky sweet tones of a life that doesn’t hold the kind of anger that wears holes in your teeth from clenching. I don’t know where these ideas came from. I read the Bible from the age of five to twenty-two (with a few God-less years off in my teens) and I never ran across the concept of Presto Change-O forgiveness.

I know those moments that are written about when you stand at the place of letting go, whether it’s at the side of a grave or the shore of an ocean, ready to fling your anger and hurt onto the waves. I’ve felt the burden lift and walked taller all the way home. But forgiveness doesn’t erase triggers, and the next day or the next week the familiar ache in my jaw will be back and my hands will be in fists under the covers when I wake from my dreams of the past.

I think we all want a miracle, and why should we not hope? The Bible and sometimes even the headlines are full of them. I was raised on miracle stories, water into wine and the blind given sight. I believed. When I was twelve, I got my first pair of much-needed glasses. When I lost them swimming in the river and couldn’t bear to tell my cash-strapped divorced mother what happened, I asked for a miracle. I walked around blindly, believing I could see. But I couldn’t, and nor can I forgive once and for all and walk forward into a future free from the weight of my disappointment.

What I can do is put on my glasses each morning, with gratitude, and chose again to put the burden down myself, with the grace of God.


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