Prologue: The temper of the times, nationally and globally, politically and personally, is wroth. Division and anger reign. I do not stand apart, casting my judging eye on all ‘round about me. For I, as opinionated and, I confess, as grudge-bearing as (and, depending on the subject, perhaps more than) the next person, bear in my body, my belly the prevailing tensions of these days. As a Christian, I am called to contemplate that cardinal, necessary act, indeed, art of all human relating: Forgiveness.
I confess. Forgiveness is hard for me. I have not done it easily or well. I recall moments, too many to count, when I forgave another for an offense, and then revisiting, thinking again about the wrong, felt afresh the hurt and the rise of anger against the one I had forgiven.
Over time, over a long time, I have come to understand that one of the obstacles, the greatest obstacle to my practice of the act, the art of forgiveness is that I find it difficult to forgive myself. The perfection to which I have striven in my doing as a device to win approval and as a defense against criticism (in each case, both public, that is, by others of me, and personal, that is, mine own of me) has left me little private room to forgive myself for my many failings.
Nevertheless, I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus’ revelation of the God of love, indeed, the God who is Love and who, as Love, forgives. Therefore, by faith, trusting that I am forgiven, I am free to choose to forgive others and myself.
The practical application, the “how” (or, at the least, one of the ways) to do this, I have discerned through my recent reflection on a biblical text; one I have read countless times. This time, I saw something new. Or, more truly stated, I, trusting the illumination of the Spirit, beheld something ever-there, which, before that moment, I had not seen…
2 thoughts on “Finding the Freedom to Forgive, Part 4 of 5”
One of the things I love most about your blog posts is your honesty. And you hit this one right on the money!! You can’t forgive others until you forgive yourself!!
As you know, I talk a lot about forgiveness in my caregiving presentations because I believe that in order to be the best caregivers we can be we have to forgive those we are providing care for for all of the things they may have done in the past. But we also have to forgive ourselves for the things we do while caregiving (like losing our patience) or things we left undone on a particular day.
One of the things I’ve been consciously doing at bedtime in addition to praying, is also forgiving others and myself for whatever may have happened on that day. That way I wake up the next day with a clean slate.
I suppose, Loretta, one way not to need to forgive others and one’s self would be to isolate one’s self; to live alone, never venturing out into the world of other people. But, then again, what sort of life (at all!) would that be? Hence, to dwell in the world of folk is to learn and to know how, as I wrote, to give-for others and one’s self so to be free of the ties that bind the mind and heart, soul and spirit in the prison of resentment partaking of the poisonous gruel of bitterness.