it’s been a few weeks since i’ve posted a formation friday. this is a crazy month for us at the refuge & my kids home for spring break & getting moving on the book & all kinds of other typical chaos. it’s been a really good lent at the refuge focused on “hunger.” one of the things so many of us hunger for is freedom and peace. we want to feel less crazy brain & more peace. less burdened & more free. less insecure & more loved. less burdened & more light. one of the parts about lent that i really like is the introspection and examining what’s going on inside our hearts a little more intentionally. for all kinds of reasons, this passage has been rattling around in my head for the past few weeks (somewhere along the line, my kids had to memorize it when they were at christian school and i can still sing the jingle): be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you (ephesians 4:32).
forgiveness is such a tricky thing for so many of us.
letting go of deep hurts is much more than saying a verse or praying a certain prayer. releasing resentment is an ongoing process in our spiritual journey that is easier said than done. i think that’s why we need God’s help with it so much. left on my own, i can always come up with a really strong case why i am right, how i have been harmed, how deeply it hurts, and why i don’t want to let it go. some of my resentments are protections. they keep me safe & protected, my heart a little hardened; they guard me from vulnerability.
unforgiveness also robs us of so much life. i like what anne lamott says, “not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” we are the ones who suffer. oh, the hours i have spent harboring unforgiveness against myself & others that some never even knew existed. they didn’t lose one wink of sleep about it and i was tortured. i think that’s why Jesus called us to forgiveness so clearly–it’s not so God will be satisfied somehow, it’s so we won’t live in so much torment.
it’s also quite true that forgiving does not mean forgetting. that is a false teaching that gets any of us right back into unsafe situations. to me, forgiveness means means letting go. releasing ties with the negative power it has over us. seeing our story through new eyes. acknowledging not only our humanness, but others, too. and respecting brokenness & evil & reality. offering mercy.