Would anyone refuse to accept the forgiveness of a lover, a parent, a teacher, a spouse, or a best friend? Of course not. If I have transgressed against you and you offer me your forgiveness, then our friendship cannot continue until I reciprocate with a sincere ‘thank you for understanding’. Only then, after cleaning house, can we pursue our relationship.
Forgive and forget is a cliché which sounds cool but is rarely practiced in our society. Although most of us are ready to forgive, the act of forgetting is difficult because none of us wants to be transgressed again by the same person and, if we are honest about ourselves, we enjoy the grudges which we hold. One of my friends says he will forgive but, the transgressing person will not get a second opportunity to harm or injure. Another holds a lifetime of grudges which fester and negate any potential good will with his transgressor. Others say that forgiveness is an act which benefits the forgiver more than the forgiven. I can understand that but, I don’t believe the purpose of forgiveness is to make me feel better about myself.
So, what then is forgiveness all about? Is it just a religious thing, a few spoken words that are meant to repair a relationship? Does sincerity enter the picture? How about compassion? Maybe a touch of empathy? Spirituality?
The Jewish faith in Psalm 46:10 believes that the psalmist wrote, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” We cease striving and know God when we enter the spaces between our thoughts, relinquish those before and after thoughts to the now moment and realize the power of a God which is omnipotent and omnipresent. That “now moment” is our God space. Living consciously in the now moment is where we will find God.
God says, ” Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth.” Psalm 46:10
We are exhorted to give up grudges, to forgive transgressions against us, to receive forgiveness for our wrongs because only then are we ready to enter the realm of “Be still and know.” Our minds, when cleared of human earthly affairs, will then be receptive to God’s presence and God’s power in the stillness of meditation, contemplation, and prayer. It’s a great exercise in spiritual discipline which I certainly have not mastered although I continually try.
Perhaps forgiveness is all about doing what Jesus did on the cross. He wasn’t concerned about feeling better as he hung there dying. He probably did not care if his forgiveness was accepted by the Roman soldiers or the Pharisees. What if, at that moment of physical death on his cross, Jesus wanted to purge humanity of it’s transgressions through forgiveness, (“Forgive them Father for they know not what they are doing”)? With this act of forgiveness mankind could resume a relationship with God released from the intolerance and hatred which nailed Jesus to his cross.
Matthew 5:23 tells me to be reconciled with my brother, if there are differences, before I come before God to offer my gift of body, mind, and soul at the altar. In my church service, I present myself in prayer to receive forgiveness for sins and to forgive others who have harmed me. I do this by reciting the Lord’s Prayer so that when I approach the altar to receive communion I am of clean heart and spirit, ready to receive God’s unending grace through the body and blood of Jesus. Forgiveness is that act of soul-cleansing which is necessary prior to spirit renewal. It is not a one-time, one and done activity. It is a continual process which is the centerpiece of any faith walk and recovery program. Namaste.