Advent Reflections – December 19, 2015

Capable of Great Forgiveness: Real Life

Forgiveness is tough! Asking for forgiveness means coming face to face with our own shortcomings, failures and mistakes. It means admitting that we behaved badly, that we willfully injured another person in some way. The other side of forgiveness can be just as painful. To forgive is to be merciful, to let go of the anger, frustration, hurt, disappointment or insult that resulted from the other person’s actions or inaction.

Traditionally, forgiveness works when both parties fulfill their obligatory roles. There is, I believe, a deeper understanding of forgiveness. My mom once told a story she heard from a co-worker. Her co-worker’s children were finishing up an argument and it was time for the forgiveness portion. The one at fault asked for forgiveness. The one injured refused. When the first complained to their mother about the situation, she said “You did your part, it’s between your sister and God whether or not she does hers. It’s not your concern.”

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Giving Hands and a Red Pushpin by Artotem via Flickr (2009). CC

A bit of a startling response, isn’t it? You capacity to forgive and ask to be forgiven has nothing to do with the other person. It is about you, your attitude and your relationship with God. If someone has injured you in some way, do you wait for them to come forward, asking for your forgiveness? Or do you extend your hands to them, injured though they may be, offering mercy and compassion. When you realize you injured someone, how quickly do run to their side, humbly seeking their forgiveness and asking how you can rectify the relationship?

Is there a situation where you are waiting for the other person to make the first move? Be that person today.

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