A powerful, thought-provoking insight....

Give me a well-trained tongue that has been borne out of silent listening in the sanctuary of my heart.

~ sevensacredpauses by Macrina Wiederkehr

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Grace of Forgiveness

Forgiving someone you love is infinitely easier than someone you don't. Yet, which is the more grace-filled act? The spirit of what Jesus says about forgiveness is that we should forgive ANYONE who needs it many more times than will feel comfortable or "right" or fair. Should we even address the "love your enemy" idea?

Yet, part of what communicates God's grace in the world is the Spirit-freeing aspect of the act of forgiveness. Have you ever forgiven someone and felt a lightness of being? Giving that mass of hurt and anger up to God and forgiving the person who created that mass relieves such a burden. Everyone has done something, somewhere, sometime, to hurt another person -- whether intentionally or not, whether seriously or not -- so we all have something to consider within ourselves that needs forgiveness. God's forgiveness, through Christ, is meant to free us from the bonds of death. Death as expressed in the lies and deceits with which we live; death as expressed in the separations we experience in our relationships with others; death as expressed in the greatest separation: that of ourselves from God.

In the forgiving process, we are the ones needing forgiveness first. Whether we reflect on the forgiveness gained for us by Christ on the cross, an instance of our being forgiven by someone else, or a time where we have forgiven someone -- forgiveness starts at "home". Without recognizing the grace we have received, we simply cannot truly and honestly extend that grace to anyone else. Forgiveness, being a grace of God, is free yet not cheap.

Forgiveness takes work and commitment. The work part is the inventory of just how we feel about the person and the situation creating the need for forgiveness. The work part includes looking at our own culpability in a situation and if it exists, owning it -- however small or seemingly insignificant. The work involves seeing the other person through the eyes of Christ. The work takes true shape in the encounter with the one who has hurt us. The work culminates in the letting go of the anger, disappointment, and disillusionment that rests in our heart, binding our spirits. Laying it down at the foot of the Cross and stepping away, turning our backs on it. Trusting that God will give us what we need to heal, to become whole, to forgive.

Commitment comes with the change in our heart and soul--a change that is nothing short of a miracle. Commitment to forgiveness reveals itself in gentleness, in loving forgiveness of our own imperfections, and in loving forgiveness of the imperfections of others. Commitment to forgiveness brings a deep abiding joy to our hearts and souls which radiates outward. Commitment to forgiveness is just that...a commitment. Living a life of forgiveness, forged in our hearts by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ demands an effort to be engaged in a relationship with Christ.

Engagement in a relationship with Christ requires our full attention. Engagement in a relationship with Christ brings us full circle...to needing forgiveness for all those ways in which we slip. Engagement in a relationship with Christ brings us to that deep abiding joy in our hearts and souls because of the forgiveness we receive, time and time again. Engagement in a relationship with Christ is about accountability.

To whom are we accountable? Obviously, we are accountable to God through Christ. When we become engaged in a relationship with Christ, we become part of the Body of Christ. What is the Body of Christ other than a community of faith? A community of faith is a place of opportunity...opportunity for us to learn, to fail, to forgive, to be forgiven...to grow in what it means to be the Body of Christ. A community of faith is a place to learn about accountability and forgiveness to, among, and between people. A community of faith is a place in which we can practice the hard work and commitment of living a life of forgiveness. So, if you are a part of the Body of Christ and you are not a member of a community of faith, how are you practicing the hard work and commitment of living a life of forgiveness -- a life to which all believers in Jesus Christ are called.

A life of forgiveness is a life full of the grace of God.


Anonymous said...

Hi Im new to blogging, I have been reading bloggs to see what its all about. I was not looking for any religious site, I just happened to read yours and liked it. Im really trying to understand forgiveness. How do we really forgive? I know I can say I have forgiven someone but Im trying to understand the meaning.thanks for your blogg

Daphne said...

Sometimes, I get hung up trying to forgive someone when I think I have to be reconciled with them and heal the relationship. In reality, those are two different things. We can forgive someone without any expectation of reconciliation. Especially when there has been much pain involved, forgiving the person who hurt us, letting go of that burden of anger, is the first step. Sometimes, it's the only step needed or desired. I believe God expects us to forgive one another. I do not believe that God expects us to subject ourselves to painful relationships, dangerous relationships over and over again. Carrying around anger from past hurts only damages us, not the person who hurt us. I don't mean to make this sound easy. It can take years to get to a place where forgiveness is possible. Prayer helps immensely in getting one to that place. The times when I have genuinely forgiven someone, I have felt an influx of joy and relief. That's how I know for myself that I've truly forgiven them.

Keep praying, keep thinking, and be gentle with yourself.

Thunderer said...

I love your thoughts on forgiveness. I agree with you and Daphne. God has told us to forgive. Forgiving, especially when it does come with reconciliation, can be good for the transgressor. It is also one of the best things someone who does it can do for themselves. I have struggled with forgiveness, but it has always proven worth the effort.

Kate_ said...

I think some people have difficulty learning how to forgive because the person they need to forgive isn't changing. However, it's an ongoing process.


The more you practice forgiveness, the easier it gets. Even if it's forgiving yourself for getting upset that you forgot to get something at the grocery store.

Madame K said...

I just wanted to let you know that I stumbled upon your blog and I love how open and honest you are about your relationship with God. It's so important to live through His words.Forgiveness is such an important concept that too often people either forget or shove aside...it's so difficult to do, yet so rewarding if you can do it.

Anyway, just wanted to stop by and say i really enjoyed reading your blog! Mine is a little different but I hope you enjoy it as well!

rakesh bedi said...

Very true! Forgiveness is one of the finest virtues with human beings.