The gospel is majestic in wisdom because within the death and resurrection of Christ is laid the absolute bedrock of peace and the abundant life. That is not necessarily because humankind to the last individual is forgiven for their sin (though this is the gospel), but because Jesus is the exemplar of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the only way we can deal with and process the disappointments, betrayals, failures, and other hurts we all experience. Processing the hurts of life leads to forgiveness.
If we don’t forgive these things and the people behind them at times we don’t heal, and we’re forever then dogged by the baggage that was always meant to be shoved at the foot of the cross.
I know, I know, there are just some disappointments, betrayals, failures, and other hurts that we just can’t seem to get past. It seems that way. It could take years, but it’s worth the faith that one day the rays of mercy might break through the clouds of vengeful bitterness.
Oh, I’ve been there. I’ve been to that dark odious place of slinking seething and occasional enragement. It’s not pretty. The trauma, unmet and not-yet-processed, feels like an unwelcome pariah, yet it secretly begs to be healed.
Sometimes it’s not from sheer resistance. We may want to forgive and yet don’t feel we can or don’t know how. This is where blind faith is the best guide. This and the process of inner peace that the good Catholic and Buddhist monks, and the contemplatives, might show us.
This inner peace is in the mode of slowing down and stopping and noticing the simplest yet most profound of things, like breathe in, breathe out.
This, and the example of Jesus who just knew the wisdom that there is in a love that just lets go.
Sometimes it’s that we don’t think the other person or situation deserves our mercy—they’ve done their dash! Think about the life we rob ourselves of when we withhold that mercy.
Bitterness is a knife that cuts deep, and the
blade is always turned back and in upon oneself.
The gospel is not only salvation eternally but salvation temporally.
So many people I know dislike the church and God for what these symbols represented when they were in their formative years.
If church and God ever harm us or make us angry or ambivalent, these symbols were shaped by human hands. Human hands are notorious for grabbing at power, manipulating, abusing, yet the prerogative of God is the opposite—service.
When we hold judgement against anything we still have the task of forgiveness ahead of us, and we’re locked out of the beautiful palatial abode of shalom, which is about as much bliss that any human being can experience.
Judgement and anger may feel justified, and we may even get some sense of warped satisfaction from them, but judgement and anger will never take us to the command of peace our souls desperately seek from cradle to the grave.
Forgiveness IS the life imperative. Without it, we flash off in anger and judgement when a better, fuller understanding and peace abide elsewhere.
If there’s trauma or pain that we cover up in addiction, our ‘peace’ is external and not a patch on the peace we could walk toward—a peace that doesn’t cost a cent. The ‘peace’ in addiction is truly otherwise a living hell.
But we must be willing to forgive if we’re to reach that most hallowed of destinations: peace.
I know how hard it can be.
“What, let the person who betrayed me off the hook? Then what?”
“What, accept that the dream I worked years for is shattered. Then what?”
“What, come to terms with how I failed when I can’t forgive myself? Then what?”
Coming to the “then, what” moment is a crisis we should all reach. We then step to the cusp of one the greatest discoveries we shall ever make.
Could it be that the opportunity ahead for each and every one of us is that question that says, “Where is the hurt in my heart that begs to be healed?” It’s there for every single one of us. We’re not alone in this. Proof of this is how we all judge, and we all bear some anger for those parts of life that didn’t turn out.
Forgiveness is THE gateway to peace and the abundant life where joy abides uninhibited and where hope cannot fail and can only prevail.
Prayer: Lord, reveal to me the vestiges of anger that lay dormant in my heart, help me to be honest about these ugly truths that hold me apart from peace, hope, and joy.