A Rock Feels No Pain

In despero , obscurum ; In Diligo , Lux lucis. (In despair, darkness; In Love, Light). -Me

I’m blatantly plagiarizing here, because…

Melissa made an observation in a comment, in response to this post, talking about forgiveness in the context of a story discussion that struck me as so sensible, so intuitively “right”, that I had to copy it to a post of its own:

I wonder though, if our forgiveness isn’t meant for the act but the person. Not sure if that makes sense, the way I wrote it. In other words, people tend to exhibit the same weaknesses over and over, and rather than forgiving the manifestation of that weakness each time (each incident, each letdown), would it make more sense to just recognize this is part of that person (at least at present) and forgive them once and for all?

I’m torn here, because of course there are times when I think “Again? But I’m tired! I don’t think I’m that resilient!”

I was actually writing something else when the email notifying me of the comment came in, and it was so appropriate to what I was writing, that I’d suspect that she was reading over my shoulder if I didn’t know better.

Forgive the whole, accept that something is part of the person, and not worry about the re-occurrences. I wonder, can I be that resilient? Can I not worry about the repeated things?

Hhhhmmmmmmmmm.

Might be better than turning into a rock, no?

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Filed under: forgiveness, relationship

Story Discussion Today

This morning, I had an interesting discussion with a group of people from Church. As we prepare and proceed through Advent, the season of preparation, there are several of us that have signed up to participate in a discussion group together. We read stories from a book called Yards of Purple, by Sarah M. Foulger, and discuss them, one story per Saturday, through the Advent season.

The book follows the lectionary cycle, which makes it very easy to relate to the particular reading for the Sunday that will follow, and also makes it very easy to remember that the whole purpose isn’t so much to have a book-club discussion, but to relate the stories and passages from The Bible to the messages that God has for each of us.

Today’s story is called “Miracle Cookies”, and relates to the lectionary passages from Isaiah 2:4, and Matthew 24:42. The story centers around an inner-city, gang-infested neighborhood, and what happens when two elderly men who have been sworn enemies for almost sixty years decide to try and make a change. One of the men, known to us as “Old Man Williams”, decides that he’s tired of living in fear, and takes the very courageous steps to go his ex-friend, in a spirit of forgiveness and “with the kernel of an idea.”

What happens next is the spreading of this movement, which they name “Swords into Plowshares”, and the joining and coming together of various people and businesses to try to make a difference in the lives and times of this community. We don’t know what the end result is, in the very broad sense, but we do know that even Janine, who bakes the cookies that form the title, has “tried to keep her well-developed skepticism far from the making of them.”

Interesting, to me, was the discussion that we had; and how many of our small group (there were only nine of us there today) focused on the forgiveness aspect of the story. Several people said that what they took away most, was the feeling that one can forgive another, as Christ has forgiven us, if only we can be open to try. We discussed how difficult it can be, sometimes, to reach out, to make that first effort, but how necessary and affirming it really is, when we do make that attempt.

One of the women said something about how hard it can be, particularly if the problem, the behavior that needs forgiving, is repeatedly occurring; she said she struggles, when the forgiveness is required “over, and over, and over- with no sign of acknowledgment from him.”

At that point, our Rector spoke up, agreeing with her, and said it feels sometimes, in his own life, like “getting poked in the eye. Then you come back for more, and get poked, and it repeats itself.”

We talked then, about the old testament, and the repeated failings of the people of Israel to follow and keep the commandments of God, and yet his repeated forgiveness, and willingness to try again, showing and redeeming over and over again, demonstrates vividly His love for us. We laughed, of course, because none of us are God, and if we were, perhaps we wouldn’t struggle so with the idea that even when someone has done us wrong, we are to forgive, and forgive, and forgive again, as many times as is needed.

Funny, though, at that moment, as we all sat there, together, there was a period of silence. Not asked for, as one might after prayer, or before, but spontaneous. Just a time when as we all looked around at one another, no one was willing to break the silence. Everyone was reflecting, and while I don’t know what was in the others’ heads, I know that I was very conscious of my failings in that; that, all to human, I fail to live up to that example, that I, in my frailty and weakness, am not so good at this.

So the take-away from this, or part of it anyway, for me- is that it’s okay to forgive, and it’s okay to forgive the very fact that forgiveness might be repeatedly needed. I can try, as Advent progresses, to remember the example of “Old Man Williams”, and look for batch of Miracle Cookies, in my own life.

Filed under: bible study, forgiveness, God, spirituality

Forgiveness

What’s in a word? I have been thinking a lot today, and yesterday, about forgiveness and forgiving. Jo asked us, separately, if we’d forgiven. I’ve been reading, and reflecting, and praying about this for weeks, and in the last two days had found myself wondering, what, exactly does it mean? So, I looked it up, and found this, on Merriam-Webster’s site:

Main Entry: for•give
Pronunciation: f&r-‘giv, for-
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): for•gave /-‘gAv/; for•giv•en /-‘gi-v&n/; -giv•ing
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English forgifan, from for- + gifan to give
transitive verb
1 a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for b : to grant relief from payment of
2 : to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : PARDON
intransitive verb : to grant forgiveness
synonym see EXCUSE
– for•giv•able /-‘gi-v&-b&l/ adjective
– for•giv•ably /-blE/ adverb
– for•giv•er noun

One of the books I’d picked up, talked about it being a journey, a process, not a specific “thing” one can decide upon; Janet mentioned, and I’d also read, that frequently it’s an unknown occurrence, one just realizes at some point, that the resentment, the anger is dissipated, and the “story” no longer is an obsessive replay. They’re all very careful to point out that it doesn’t mean whatever is forgotten, merely that it’s lost it’s power to overwhelm. To teach, to grow, yes, but no longer overwhelm and make massive resentments.

Anger may return, for a long time, but the resentment, the obsessions, will fade.

Guess what? Along with the much more relaxed feelings I have toward Lynn’s friends, I realized as I was watching her play tonight, and this weekend, that I’m really a lot further along that road than I’d realized myself. I don’t know what triggered the reflections, nor does it matter, cuz I do realize that whenever it happened, however it occurred, much of my anger is gone, that I’m no longer as paranoid and worried about every little thing.

Wanna know a secret?

I forgive. I forgave.

This one, gets posted, for anyone and everyone to see. Some of my meanderings, I do for me, and delete, some I post, some are for a particular person, or whatever. This one, gets posted because I’ll shout to the world, that I forgive, and that’s a very, very wonderful thing.

I love you.

Filed under: forgiveness, relationship

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