Hard Lessons of Forgiveness

Forgiveness can be a tricky thing. Many people, including myself, are able to talk about forgiveness as an important task in order to move on. Some people, not-so-much including myself, are also able to actually do it in their mind, heart and Spirit instead of just vocally forgiving the person(s) who have wronged them. A friend of mine, Margaret Feinberg, recently wrote a book titled The Sacred Echo. In it she so eloquently talks about how God communicates to us anyway he can—directly or indirectly. Hence the title, Margaret’s thesis is that God continually uses the ‘echoes’ in our lives (the reoccurring smaller, more indirect occurrences in our everyday lives) to reiterate the big idea he is trying to communicate. Such a thing has happened to me recently:

Forgiveness = Freedom

Two different ‘echoes’ have convicted me to this post. First, Mike Foster recently gave me a copy of his book, Deadly Viper Character Assassins. From p. 51-57 he (and co-writer Jud Wilhite) talks about the Precedent of Grace. Here is the portion that I couldn’t shake from my head for the last week:

“A new model of belonging, respect, and grace is needed to move from a culture of concealment at work to a culture of honesty. We must hold high the values of forgiveness and second chances. What are your secrets that you are afraid might come out? Is it better to live in fear or freedom?”

If there is one thing that I really make a concerted effort on, it’s being totally transparent at all times—if anything, pretty much every single person closest to me continues to tell me that I’m too transparent and need to stop pouring my guts out to every stranger or media person I come in contact with. Good or bad, that’s just not me because no matter who I talk to, no matter what the other person’s intentions are, I roll with full disclosure. But the part of Mike’s words that really hit me was the last question: “is it better to live in fear or freedom.” Over the past week “Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. Freedom.” has been echoing throughout my Spirit.

Then as I was getting ready for work this morning a song by the Casting Crows came on, Here I Go Again. This song talks about a person whose best friend is dying and the person feels convicted because he/she always dodges talking about the God stuff, and now it might be too late. Here is the portion that I couldn’t shake from my head:

“Lord you love him so; you gave your only son. If he will just believe, he will never die. How then will he know what he has never heard—Lord he has never seen mirrored in my life. Maybe this time, I’ll speak the words of life with your fire in my eyes. But that old familiar fear, it’s tearing at my words. What am I so afraid of, because here I go again talking about the rain; mulling over things that don’t live past today. As I dance around the truth, time is not his friend—this might be my last chance to tell him that you love him…but here I go again.”

And at that moment I felt like a fraud. I stand in public and talk about Christ’s unconditional love, as we are all his children made in his image, and yet I am still harboring a special place of hate and resentment in my heart for a select few people. Then the final association hit—I loathe, fear, and I am crippled by these few people like many of my brothers and sisters in Christ feel about gays and lesbians who are, or were, close to them at one time. No longer will I do that. So here is my freedom through truth, freedom through forgiveness not spoken, but contently given to God. It’s taken many years for me to get here, but if I’m to publically move forward for what the Lord has asked of me, then I can have no place for secret hate—even if no one knows but me. Here is my secret list of people I am forgiving once and for all:

For the past four years there has been a man who just won’t leave me alone—not The Marin Foundation, not anything I do, say or write. He runs to any newspaper or magazine that will listen to him and he spews hate against me and what the Lord has asked me to do. He lies about me—he blatantly makes up things I’ve said, things I do or things I’ve done, and he just won’t stop. One day, with vengeance in mind, I Googled his full birth name (that I found out from one of his relatives that I so happened to meet). And wouldn’t you know that the very first thing that popped up was his mug shot and home address because he is a registered sex offender for molesting a young boy in the late 90s. He’s covered everything up really well because he has a new identity. He is a very successful businessman, heavily involved with child advocacy rights in his community, and he donates A LOT of money. No one knows the truth—but now I did. I printed his sex offender page off the internet and I’ve hid that page in my cabinet for the past 3 years, waiting, for just the right moment to publically hold it up in front of TV cameras, reporters and a huge group of people—finally exposing this man, his lies and false motives. But I’m not going to hide it anymore. I burned it today. It’s gone, it’s given up and committed to the Lord and no more will I feel like I have to defend myself against this man and the media outlets that love to listen to his garbage. I forgive you. And I am now going to be intentional about learning to love you because you are no less of a child of God than me. I am free from your traps; I have released myself for carrying you as a secret burden and thank you for being the one to bring this all to light.

I also forgive two people who used to be very, very close to me. They have decided to go in another direction and say negative things about me and tell some media gossip folks partial truths to very personal things that we all experienced together. I forgive you. I will no longer deny what you two meant to me, and how you two set me on the path the Lord destined me to be on. You two still mean the world to me, and that is why I resented you and what you did so very much. I have released myself for carrying you as a secret burden. Thank you for letting me love you, and one day I pray we can all connect again and restore what we had years ago.

Overall, the media has not been my friend. People always tell me, “no media is bad media.” Well, I don’t agree. But from now on I am releasing my secret burden, resentment and hate, to control what others say, twist or write about me. I can only be me, transparent and honest, and how others use that for their story line is up to them. I forgive them, and I am looking forward to the next opportunity I will have to be honest and transparent all over again—no matter what.

A benediction in closing:

Thank you Lord for allowing me to be free to forgive and free to live my life the absolute fullest I can through your unrelenting grace. Allow me to never change my transparency because I’m scared of what might happen with it. Thank you Lord for this opportunity to release these secret burdens that no longer will haunt my Spirit. In Jesus’ holy name—Amen.

Much love.
http://www.themarinfoundation.org/

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • Matthew Blake

    That is powerful. And your transparency is appreciated & valued here.

    Thanks.

  • Leif

    May God give you grace, wisdom and peace as you forgive.

    Leif

  • Jeff S.

    I had to work through the whole concept of forgiveness in a very real way in relation to my brother who I consider to be narcissistic. I worked a 4-part Celebrate Recovery teaching around it beginning with this post: http://www.xanga.com/carleton1958/594985070/forgiveness/

    Forgiveness is a difficult thing when the other person feels they have done no wrong and continue to hurt others. But practicing the forgiveness that Christ demonstrated to us has made a total difference in me finding freedom. It sounds like you are on to the same.

  • Batmaster5

    Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die

  • Br. Michael

    You are my hero… You helped save my life and lives of many. Thank you Br. Andrew for being born more than you know.

  • http://emarkthomas.wordpress.com/ Ethan

    Oh… thank you. This is… excellent. Thank you.

  • Kingson

    This blog was recommended to me by a friend. As I always do when checking out a new blog, I googled the author’s name for an overview of how he’s perceived by the online public.

    I have to say I’ve rarely seen such polarized attitudes about a blogger as I have about you, Mr Andrew Marin. People either seem to love you or hate you. I couldn’t find a single comment along the lines of “oh yeah, he’s OK”. It was all either “angel of light, savior of Mankind” or “vicious anti-gay Jesus freak”.

    That being the case, I approached this blog with caution. I’ve read through a few of the most recent posts and found them quite interesting. Much of what you say sounds great. But there are a few things that worry me and the particular post I’m commenting on here crystallizes them well.

    One of the key reasons I find conversations with Christians to be pretty pointless in general is an attitude of unassailable righteousness that pervades everything they say. They’re always 100% right and anyone who disagrees with them is deluded, evil, possessed or mentally ill.

    When you’re convinced that what you’re saying comes directly from God, you can never be wrong. When you’re convinced that you’re following God’s commandments to the letter, everything that goes awry must be someone else’s fault. When you’re convinced of your own virtue, arguments and disagreements must always be down to the unreasonable behaviour of others. It can’t be your fault. God is on your side.

    But isn’t this kind of an attitude basically just self-deification? I’m very wary of those who present themselves as Christian martyrs, especially when their martyrdom conceals a veiled threat of vengeance dressed up as forgiveness.

    Whatever you may or may not do with the personal details of the man you referred to in your post, you’ve now outed him as a child abuser. You’ve also set up a premise in the minds of your supportive readers that those who attack you have deep dark secrets to hide. So they really must be evil. Once again you’ve positioned yourself in a place of unassailable virtue and portrayed all opposition as hateful and evil. Once again you’ve closed the conversation down by annexing the moral high ground and presenting yourself as the embodiment of virtue.

    You can see it in the comments here. I don’t know if you seek unquestioning validation, but you never seem to argue with it. Is this all about worshipping God or is Mari(a)n veneration what motivates you to do what you do?

    You say you’re trying to build bridges, but what I see being constructed here looks more like a citadel. The fair innocent maid we know as Andrew Marin sits atop a pedestal within the encircling walls worshipping God, but one eye is firmly fixed on her circle of admiring followers. Outside the evil hordes rage.

    So does this kind of fortress mentality bring you, me or anyone else closer to God, I wonder?

    Hmmm. Food for thought maybe. Or fodder for another attack on the “haters”. I don’t hate you, Andrew Marin. From what I’ve seen you’re a mixed bag of virtue and vice just like everyone else, myself included of course. But I wonder if your virtue is quite as virtuous as you portray it to be. I also wonder whether that portrayal is intentional or just an inevitable side-effect of the mediatized sound-bite ministry you’ve created here.

    • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

      Kingson: I’ve listened to Andrew enough times to know that he struggles with these Kingdom principles just like the rest of us do and he will acknowledge that.


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