I talk about lots of different things to lots of different people. Yet sometimes as I review a week there are some common threads which force me to rethink my own views. I have spoken with several people this week who have been hurt and wounded, and continue to struggle with how to move forward. One of those themes this week has been forgiveness. What does it mean to apologise? How do you know if it is real? Should we offer forgiveness if there is no recognition of the pain caused or remorse over those actions? When should we withhold forgiveness?
As usual there are no easy answers to any of those questions! One quote which I sometimes use is “un-forgiveness is like acid, it eats away at the vessel containing it”. Yet there are also times when being too quick to forgive only makes it worse. All too often that hasty forgiveness – because it is the Christian thing to do – is really denial or avoidance of the bigger issues which need to be dealt with.
The Padre’s role is not to help you escape, but to help you confront the reality of your pain and own your attitudes towards that other person. Those hurts and how you have reacted tell you something about yourself as well. Yes, there may be tears but as somebody once said “you have to let the tears wash the window of your soul”, only then will you be able to see clearly what the next step should be.
So, what do you do after you have bared your soul, told your story and shed some tears? It seems to me that the real problem is often that you know you have not forgiven yourself! You still feel guilty because you know you are guilty! This week I shared some practical down suggestions, but ultimately the only way forward is to ask God to forgive you, and accept that he can and will if you ask him.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance a violet sheds
On the heel that has crushed it”
It is my hope and prayer that you might experience that forgiveness today. If you want to talk about it, leave a comment.
Chaplain Ian S Whitley