To Forgive is Divine
Dr. Michael Thomas
It is said in our prayer that God forgives us just as we forgive others. Jesus forgave those who were involved in his execution. Forgiveness is a very radical act. The word radical has come to have a scurrilous reputation, but it comes from the same meanings as ‘branch’ and ‘root’. Forgiveness is an act that is deeply rooted in the ground of our lives. Vengeance and bitterness are separative and constricting by nature. Alienating. A person who cannot forgive is bound to the past, tied by painful thoughts to memories of people and events; ongoing wounds that never heal.
In the last few decades, we have come to realize that our thoughts and feelings deeply affect our bodies. Over time, our lives are fundamentally changed by our attitudes. Our genetic heritage plays a real part in our lives. Certainly Grace touches us. But our thoughts and feelings are within our ability to manage.
Forgiveness is usually discussed in terms of forgiving others who have wronged us. I would respectfully suggest that first, we must forgive ourselves. If we cant find the Peace that comes from within us, the Love that is our true Guide, then it is doubtful that our actions will convey it either. This is no invitation to act thoughtlessly or hurtfully and then assume no responsibility. All actions have consequences. We have all thought, said, and done things that have harmed others. We all know right and wrong, and when we look at our lives, we can see that which we have successfully (or unsuccessfully) kept covered from others. If we are trying to be honest with ourselves, we often fall short. And so, forgiveness is an ongoing process. It is humbling. We must turn back to face the Light. We must understand that God forgives us as we are ready to be forgiven. It is that love of a parent for a child; instantly forgiving, a kiss on the forehead and a pat on the rear as they run off to further adventure.
But what is unforgivable? Don’t most of us think some things are unforgivable? Where is that line? I don’t see a qualifier in the Lords Prayer. And, what qualifier could be more primary than forgiving the people who are executing you? The Master taught as profoundly from his actions as from his words. The radical forgiveness of Jesus sprang naturally from his embodiment of the most powerful force in all of the universe: Love.
Its time to examine Love and forgiveness in our lives. As a rule, our social institutions are not very loving, nor are they very forgiving. Zero tolerance is described as a kind of tough love. We do not tend as a society to see the Light of God in each other. We term this the secular society. We don’t tend to forgive each other either. Actually, we tend to put each other in prison. In fact, we put more of each other into prisons in this country than any country ever has in the history of the world. Look it up and see if I am right.
I make this plea -We cant just throw people away. We are all Gods children. And our children¦ 40,000 children die everyday in the world, mostly of starvation. Even in our own country, the most powerful in the history of the world, one in five children goes to bed hungry at night. There are real connections between all of us. There are terrible disconnections between us that desperately need to be healed.
The more unforgiven territory that lies within us, the more indigestible life becomes. Turning away and putting up walls only makes us unaware, it doesnt alter the truth. It sickens our society. It sickens us. Forgiveness is radical. It is fundamental. It is Gods Grace. Take a breath. Turn toward Gods Light. Let His Love and forgiveness transform your life. Through your life, Love will touch the world.