Daily life provides numerous opportunities for forgiveness. In the course of virtually every day, we perceive ourselves being intentionally or unintentionally slighted; we experience the thoughtlessness of others; and often encounter people who are rude, ruthless, and self-absorbed. Forgiveness is especially difficult if you are a person who constantly tries to do the right thing, go the extra mile, and treat others with care and respect.
Daily slights are the tip of the iceberg. Many of us come from families in which we were traumatized, abused, or simply neglected. Our parents may have narcissistically sought to shape us in their own image, disregarding our feelings and gifts. We still carry the scars of the sins of commission or omission of parents, relatives, and siblings. Many of us have also been hurt by the decisions of institutions and their leaders.
Forgiveness is about “letting go” of our grievances and burdens. It is about moving on with our lives and not letting the behavior of others, intended or unintended, dominate our present or future. This, of course, is easier said than done, especially when we have experienced deep pain, disappointment, or betrayal of trust. We may never forget these experiences, nor should we ever accept injustice and abuse as normal. But, God calls us to move on, opening to the healing power of the future, even when we must confront injustice, seek legal accountability, or end a toxic relationship.
In many ways, forgiveness is a matter of accepting a Grace Larger than Ourselves – a trust that God will have the final say in our lives and in the lives of those who have hurt us. Forgiveness is grounded in the recognition – with Martin Luther King – that “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It finds courage in the trust that all things are in God’s care and that all will be healed, including those who have hurt us.
Forgiveness heals our woundedness and opens our future to reconciliation – either imaginative or interpersonal – that allows our spirits to experience peace and possibility. While forgiveness is always a possibility, forgiveness often requires a community – dear and supportive friends, spiritual guides, therapists, counselors – and the healing God moving through all things.
Today, take the first steps on the adventure of forgiveness with these affirmations:
I forgive myself and claim God’s love for me.
By God’s forgiveness, I am freed from past pain and injustice.
Safe in God’s care, I claim God’s forgiveness for myself and others.
God is my companion as I seek to forgive (a particular person).
Throughout the day, let go of any perceived slights – even when you have to confront them – and open to God’s blessing of every situation.