I was listening to a liturgy while I drove home from work. As I reflected on my day and places I had fallen short and needed to repent, it transitioned to people I needed to forgive. People I needed to let off the hook.
Let off the hook . . .
An image of people dangling from giant hooks took shape. As I thought about people I haven’t forgiven, I realized they weren’t tucked away out of sight. My own little secret. No, they’re on a giant rolling garment rack I haul along with me.
But I hadn’t noticed them.
That’s the thing about unforgivenness. I see it in other people—the deadweight they’re dragging behind them—but I remain blind to the energy I’m expending as I refuse to let go of the past.
The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual assault on my posture caught me off guard. I saw a hunched and twisted version of myself pulling my hangers-on. The weight and bitterness had twisted and hardened me. Yet the hooked people glided while I strained to tow my anger and resentment.
I swallowed hard and began to name the moments that hoisted the individuals on to their hooks. With each utterance of repentance and forgiveness the hooks released. I felt the tension in my back unknot. My shoulders straightened. I breathed easier. Joy seeped in to the dry, rigid places.
I’m not done. Not every hook is empty. And I know some people will end up swinging from my rack again for the same long-past reasons, but now that I can see my convoy of hooks perhaps I can catch and release instead of holding on to my oppressive trophies.
Now . . . to turn the table of forgiveness—to let myself off the hook—that’s another matter.