Join us for God on Tap tomorrow night, Tuesday, July 28th at 7:30pm, upstairs at Forest & Main. Our topic will be forgiveness.
If you ask me, forgiveness is one of the hardest parts of faith and yet is absolutely central to the teachings of Jesus and many other spiritual teachers.
To forgive someone or a group of people for real or perceived wrongs they have done to us is a challenging thing. We often harbor the hurt others have caused rather than forgive them. It can do as much harm to ourselves as to the others involved, perhaps more. As Malachy McCourt once said, "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die."
Sometimes forgiving ourselves is even more difficult.
Forgiveness can seem so hard, and yet Jesus forgave the people who had crucified him even as he was hanging on the cross. And just recently the family members of those slain at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston forgave their killer. A Washington Post article entitled The Power of Forgiveness in Charleston it reads,
That is the right phrase to summarize what we have seen in Charleston: the strength to love. Forgiveness is not something soft or passive. It demonstrates spiritual maturity, strength of character, depth, discipline and steadiness. It is the sign of a determined faith, fighting against every natural human inclination. “I acknowledge that I am very angry,” said Bethane Middleton-Brown, the sister of one of the victims. But “she taught me that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hating.”
A daughter of one victim told an interviewer that everyone, including the killer, deserves a “second chance.” She made her point confidently and without bitterness. Forgiveness is also a form of freedom — a refusal to be ruled by anger or resentment. It is like laying a burden down.
Some questions to get thinking:
How would you define forgiveness? What does it look like, feel like?
What has been your experience in giving, receiving, or withholding forgiveness—for yourself or others?
People often say that the hardest person to forgive is yourself? Is that true?
People say, "Forgive but don't forget." What is the relationship between forgiving and forgetting?
What can we learn from the example of the members of Mother Emanuel AME?
Why did Jesus talk so much about forgiveness?