Now that we are well into our Lenten journey thinking about forgiveness, I want to share some thoughts on the practice to incorporate during the week as you “fast” from unforgiveness.
The first is that forgiveness is very hard–most of the time. In conversations with parishioners, the difficulty of forgiving has come up many times. We all know how challenging it feels to attempt to forgive someone who harmed us deeply. On the other hand, we often struggle to forgive petty injustices as well. As Steve’s forgiveness testimony so beautifully illustrated, even small infractions can have far reaching effects. I think we all related to that experience.
The second thought is that forgiveness is so hard because we, generally speak, don’t understand it and don’t do it for the right reasons! Most of us are taught that we need to forgive for the other person’s sake. In truth, forgiveness is an act that sets US free. It’s possible for it also to free the other person, but when we “do” forgiveness as if we are giving someone who hurt us a gift, we often still feel hurt and resentful, maybe even thinking, “why do I have to be the bigger person?” Well, nobody has to be the bigger person. If you choose that role, you operate out of your higher identity, Christ in you, which brings us back into right relationship with God.
This past Sunday’s Gospel lesson included these words spoken by Jesus: “I am fed by doing the will of the one who sent me and by completing his work” (John 4:34). That’s fantastic! What fed Jesus was doing God’s work. It also fed other people, of course, but it fed HIM. We are fed when we do “God’s work” by forgiving. Give yourself that gift so you can experience the spiritual sustenance that comes with letting go of angry, hurting thoughts that don’t cause anyone suffering but yourself.
This week as you explore forgiving yourself, God and others, imagine it as an act of self-kindness. Here is some more inspiration from religious writers and teacher !
“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.” Henri Nouwen
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Lewis Smedes
“Forgiveness is not a one off decision; it is a journey and a process that takes time, determination, and persistence. Forgiveness is not forgetting; it is simply denying your pain the right to control your life.” Corallie Buchanan
Many blessings and keep letting me know how it’s going,