Forgive us our trespasses..

“… as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

This part of the Lord’s prayer crossed my mind a few times this week in conversations with a few people that were filled with such hurt feelings over past events. Past grudges that so commonly perpetuate into present dealings and choices.

Family relationships are harder than normal I think.  These in theory should be the easiest of all the ones you have in this life, yet they really aren’t.  The closer the relationship should be – seems to be in direct proportion to how sensitive we choose to be whenever a  loved one’s fault becomes apparent, or when they show what we view as a misjudgment or hurt our ego’s with their choices.

Many times what happens, instead of forgiving and moving on, we take things personally and inadvertently choose to hold grudges. These grudges become ingrained in our perceptions, and our perceptions have the power to mold our present and future actions.  Without realizing we very often choose courses of actions based upon perceptions that are in honesty, grounded less in personal character or virtue, but more realistically shaped by the shadows of these  hidden grudges that we hold.

Above this, with family relations, we commonly choose to justify our actions as those founded in the idea of  protection.    “Protection” is often a cloudy area in our reasoning. I’ll explain what I mean by that.

While we generally innately want to protect our loved ones, and while there are times when it does become necessary,  it can also often lead us to over step some boundaries. The justification of “Protection” can at times be used when we ourselves really just don’t want to trust or relinquish control to someone else.  By telling ourselves our reason for our actions is protection, we often side-skirt the thinking that other underlying and unresolved issues took any  part in our decision making process.

We ask God to forgive us, but what if we aren’t willing to forgive “those who trespass against us”? Do we doom ourselves?  Interesting thought, There are those that say yes.  Personally, I don’t believe so,  I think we are extremely lucky in that  God who made us understands us so intimately and knows all our faults… yet loves us anyway. If we are supposed to strive for “godly” actions ,  and Jesus is known for his forgiveness and unconditional love, then what sense would it make to believe in a God that has been given faulty human attributes like vengeance and segregation? Also, wouldn’t it be like having too many chefs in the kitchen, if we all decided it was our right to judge?  We aren’t here to judge, but we all do it, and often!

Forgiveness… Is it fair?

No, its actually not, and since we are only human, that is why its so important. In truth forgiveness is not about judgment or  fairness, and shouldn’t  even tied to reconciliation (a common misconception).   If you are waiting for the other party to change or apologize, then you have set the stage for a sort of “conditional forgiveness”, which isn’t forgiveness at all.  Real forgiveness is actually a one-sided, personal choice that doesn’t depend on any agreement. It should be a humbling experience that frees your soul from past issues.  Be weary if it makes you feel righteous and somehow better than someone else, because those are sure signs that you aren’t actually exhibiting pure forgiveness.  Taking a a few passages from my favorite book (The Shack)  that sums up the idea nicely…

“When he finally quieted down Papa said, “Mack, for you to forgive this man is for you to release him to me, and allow me to redeem him.”

“Forgiveness is not about forgetting, Mack. It is about letting go of another’s throat.”

“Forgiveness is first for you, the forgiver, to release you from something that will eat you alive; that will destroy your joy and your ability to love fully and openly”

If forgiveness was fair, then none of us would ever be forgiven. We’d all be trapped and never allowed to move on or grow, and most importantly… to heal.  Regardless of wither or not you believe in a God, I believe this basic principle of forgiveness is still sound. We all need to move on. The truth is that even if the offender genuinely wanted to rectify something, they will never have the ability to go back in time and undo what has already been done.

I’ve come to the conclusion that true forgiveness is not common, and not possible without some definite inward introspection. Look into yourself, analyze the possibility that you are affected by something more than you would like to admit.  Then, make the decision to release the tie that binds you to it,  be willing to offer a true forgiveness unassuming of any other’s  actions, and put the issue to rest, never to be brought up again. Find your peace, so that you are the one in control of your actions, not a seated shadow of some past event.

Be ok with the fact that you aren’t perfect, and that neither is anyone else.  Know that there is always possibility for you to change if you are open to the idea, and honest with yourself. Remember that the same is true for those around you, they can change when they choose.  Growth happens when inspired, and nothing is more inspiring than being around someone who is willing to issue changes in themselves first.  Remember that a little respect goes a long way, even if someone isn’t respectful back, doesn’t mean you haven’t had an impact. Quiet inspiration still inspires.  Analyze your own actions .. don’t justify your actions,  but really dig deep and analyze. Identify the real reason you do what you do.. Avoid the urge to bring up the past, make decisions in the present.

Seize the Day!