The studies in this book examine challenges we face as we try to forgive and reconcile with those who have hurt us. Let’s face it–sometimes it’s easier to be hurt or angry, to hold onto our sense of justice and pride, rather than let go. But both forgiveness and reconciliation are disciplines necessary for the spiritual health of individuals and communities. In practicing them, we see the reality of God’s forgiveness and his offer of reconciliation to us.
This series of posts will follow my inward thoughts as I go through the book chapter by chapter working through the ideas listed above.
In my last post, I got stuck on this quote by Miroslav Volf: “The open arms of the father in the parable are a picture of who God is, how God has acted toward sinful humanity—and also how we ought to act toward those who have sinned against us.” I was overwhelmed with the idea that I am to forgive everyone as God has forgiven us. Volf’s quote made me wonder, “How am I supposed to forgive someone with a fatherly forgiveness when I am not the father?” While chapter 2 of Forgiveness & Reconciliation didn’t really help answer that question completely, I still felt the Lord’s guiding hand push me towards a potential solution.
To be honest, when I first read the instructed reading for the day about David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel), I didn’t feel as though the Lord was telling me anything. But as I sat and read about the process David went through to realize how gravely he had sinned, I had a moment of epiphany: none of us are perfect. We are all sinners and we have all done despicable things. With this in mind, perhaps after I am deeply scarred by someone the first thing I should do is humble myself. In remembering all the horrible deeds that I have done, I get a better sense of the big picture. Stepping back allows me to see what the pain looks like in the long run and illuminates how I am not innocent either.
In dealing with those outside of my family, who I have a harder time forgiving, humbling myself makes it (somewhat) easier to forgive the person who has wronged me, in the process softening my heart and allowing me to love them more.
Don’t get me wrong though, the process itself usually takes a while. Depending on what the person did to hurt me, it will take varying amounts of time before I can really open my eyes to the bigger picture. Forgiveness is painful and is a process, one which cannot be pressured. If you forgive when you’re not ready, then you could be just covering the pain with a band aid instead of trying to heal it from the inside out.