Weekly Thought – May 5, 2020
Fred wrote much about maturity – its elements, and processes. Forgiveness is one of the key factors in mature living.
Forgive Us Our Sins
There is no way to live without violating other people or being violated. The way to even the score is not through revenge. Renowned psychiatrists find that revenge is the most unhealthy of all emotions. From a practical standpoint, I think our human nature is to get revenge, to get even. To move past this and begin the forgiveness work takes divine intervention. From my experience, it isn’t a natural trait.
The Christian faith asserts we must forgive unlike other cultures and religions which teach “an eye for an eye, or a tooth for a tooth.”
Forgiving is part of a process: living in the attitude of forgiveness, accepting the request for forgiveness, and then actually forgiving. I have had people say, “Fred, there are people I will never forgive – never!” Naively, they think withholding forgiveness is the best way to repay the hurt. We know the other person will probably never suffer our lack of forgiveness, but it certainly hurts us.
A business associate feuded with his brother 25 years before I knew him. By this time, he could not even recall the details of the estrangement, but he knew and eagerly told me that forgiveness would never be given. I had no idea of the outcome for the offending brother, but my associate developed ulcerative colitis and died a painful death. But he satisfied his aim of never forgiving.
Forgiveness should be one of those reflex emotions we develop. As soon as we realize it is required, we must discipline ourselves to act quickly. Running away from it, or denying it begins a downward slide for us emotionally, and even physically.
Forgiveness is a deep process, and we can’t just glibly say to somebody “oh, forget it!” Humans don’t forget very easily. Asking someone to forget without forgiveness is unhealthy. We tend to stuff it down into our subconscious. I find that full, true forgiveness doesn’t require forgetting.
Probably, the biggest problem we have is the need to forgive ourselves. A lot of residue of guilt is because after we confess, and receive God’s forgiveness we fail to accept that freedom. Many times I see people who refuse to accept their own humanity. Father Hesburgh, former President of Notre Dame, was given three precepts from his predecessor Father Cavanaugh: be right, be human, be humble. So often when we make mistakes, we hold them against ourselves as if we were not human. Frankly, I have never seen any reason to create a habit of forgiving others quickly, but not affording that to myself. I must be clear – this is not rationalizing. First there must be the admission, confession, and when possible restitution. If I won’t let someone else beat me for a forgiven sin, then I am not going to do that to myself.
This week think about: 1) How well do I handle forgiveness? 2) Who needs my forgiveness? 3) Who taught me the value of true forgiveness?
Words of Wisdom: “Forgiveness should be one of those reflex emotions we develop.”
Wisdom from the Word: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our offenses, according to the riches of his grace.” (Ephesians 1:7 NET Bible)