— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —
In my lifetime I have had the privilege of attending a vast variety of Christian Worship services. One thing that is said in many of these services and almost always in a liturgical church is the Lord’s Prayer. The latter part of the Lord’s prayer deals with forgiveness. In the Anglican tradition we also have Confession towards the beginning of our service. We are also given the opportunity of confession or recognition of mistakes we have made before receiving communion.
These parts of the service are very important to me. It is the opportunity to publicly and in fellowship confess my shortcomings that have been revealed to me by the spirit. The first step towards forgiveness is confession. For me it is sort of like going through a carwash. During the week we all do things that we regret, things we wish we could redo. These things can be small as a mosquito on the windshield, but sometimes we drive through a deep muddy pothole. None of us can take the car out of the garage without getting it dirty. When we are honest with ourselves none of us makes it through the week without doing something we regret. This regret can make us feel unclean and in need to go through the carwash ourselves.
We look at our car and quickly see the parts that need to be cleaned. For those who have gone through the deep muddy puddle the Carwash handles that too. After the prayer of confession God honors us by forgiving us. Forgiveness means that the consequences of what we did are still ours to carry but we have been cleansed.
There is one catch to forgiveness, and this we find in the sermon on the mount:
Probably the greatest attribute of God that he shares with us is the ability to forgive. A lack of being able to forgive makes it impossible to receive forgiveness. The problem of not forgiving leads to destruction of our spirit, soul and body. Forgiving someone does not make a wrong a right and the consequences stay the same. Taking your car through the car wash this time will also be cleansing but there might still be some dents. It is a powerful experience to be able to forgive in spite of the damage done.
Forgiveness is a process and rarely happens instantly. It can also take hours, days, years and even decades. In my life I have experienced each of these time frames.
- The first step in forgiveness is to “will/want” to forgive.
- The second step is normally the longest phase. The forgiveness needs to take the journey from our brains to our hearts. Don’t be surprised if it takes a while for the brain to release forgiveness to the heart.
- The last phase of forgiveness is reconciliation. Naturally this phase is only possible if the other person wants to be reconciled. Our part is remaining willing to be reconciled. This can also take time.
I close with this quote from Rowan Williams on forgiveness:
The person who asks forgiveness is a person who has renounced the privilege of being right or safe; he has acknowledged that he is hungry for healing, for the bread of acceptance and restoration to relationship.
But equally the person who forgives has renounced the safety of being locked into the position of the offended victim; he has decided to take the risk of creating afresh a relationship known to be dangerous, known to be capable of causing hurt.
Both the giver and the receiver of forgiveness have moved out of the safety zone; they have begun to ask how to receive their humanity as a gift.
Be blessed and pass it on.
PS.: When you are busy forgiving, don’t forget yourself!