Sometimes it’s easy to think of forgiveness as a power we each wield as an individual—a prize to dole out as we see fit. This vision of forgiveness, however, is too small, and fails to take into account the complexities of the act and its impact.
As much as we may feel empowered to give or withhold forgiveness, it’s important to remember that it’s not always about us (or even the person who’s wronged us). Forgiveness (or the lack thereof) impacts the fabric of our community, our relationships with our loved ones, our relationships to God.
So perhaps when it’s our turn to forgive, the question shouldn’t be, “Am I ready?” but instead, “God, will you help me?” If we always waited until we were ready—always on our own timeline—we'd be acting out of myopic self interest. Instead, let’s trust God to shape our feelings. Let’s let the hurt go in response to God’s command.
Perhaps, acknowledging that forgiveness is a bigger question than our own whims—that it is an act on behalf of the community of faith—will evolve the personal act of forgiveness from a begrudging chore to a joyful spiritual practice.
How do you envision the act of forgiveness?
Throughout the Lenten season, small groups are meeting to discuss Forgiveness: A Lenten Study, a book by Marjorie J. Thompson. As small group members chew on this text and the conversations that come out of it, they will share their thoughts and questions here on the blog. Check back often, join the conversation in the comment section, and read along if you’d like! (Copies of the book are for sale in the church office 903-597-6317.)
Many thanks to Margaret Bjork, who contributed to this post.