The topics of Unconditional Love and Ultimate Forgiveness have been weaving through my conversations lately. Then this story landed in my box several times...
During Oprah’s The Life You Want Tour, Iyanla Vanzant has been sharing the story of being left by her husband of 40 years, and not just left, but left for a friend of hers. The Ultimate Betrayal. She has spoken openly and eloquently about the anger, indignation, shame, grief, humiliation, bitterness, crying, suffering, (and did I mention some very righteous anger?) and the difficulty of even contemplating forgiveness. Oh, she knew she had to forgive them for her own sake. She knew harboring those very understandable feelings would burn a hole right through her, curdling her innards on its destructive path through her heart and soul.
So she searched and worked and searched some more for some method, some model that could get her through and out to the other side, any other side. And then it came to her – the most radical ultimate forgiveness possible. She had to love them. Literally fall in love with them. She had to love their imperfect humanness, their weakness that was driving her to find strength where she never knew it existed, and most of all for their very personal role in her own marvelous destiny. When the solution first came to her, she thought it was crazy. And at the same time, she knew that love was the only way out of this hell-hole. Finally, she surrendered to love and spoke this:
“My love of you, it’s got nothing to do with you.... I’m trying to save myself so I love them. I get to choose my relationship with them. Doesn’t mean I invite them for Thanksgiving, but I can love them from my altar and from my prayer table if it means my freedom.”
You’ve heard it before – Your ticket out of your own darkness is stamped with Unconditional Love and Ultimate Forgiveness.
It doesn’t mean you like everything about another person. It simply means you accept that they are who they are, warts, thorns, and all. It means you accept that their free will has carried them into a place where you could end up as collateral damage or finally set free. And you get to choose. It means you love them for giving you the key to escape some prison you have constructed out of your own hurt. It means that you embrace this radical, magnificent, mind-boggling love, you jump on its magic carpet ride and let it carry you away and beyond. And then you will be set free.
Image credit: Ankya Klay