I was going to say that I’d finally figured it out and this would be my fourth and final blog on forgiveness, but who am I kidding. This is such an important topic I’m sure I will touch on it again in the future. But for now, my thinking on the subject has recently come full circle, and that’s what I want to share today.
I learned many years ago the importance of forgiving others. It is essential for our spiritual, emotional, and physical health. Anger and unforgiveness can be so detrimental to all three, not to mention our relationships with others and the world.
Recently I realized that there are things that I have done, unknowingly and unintentionally, that I need to be forgiven for. I have been aware for a long time of my general need for forgiveness for things I knew were wrong or hurtful when I did them, but this realization of pain I had caused without being aware I had caused it was something new for me.
Finally I put it all together and have come full circle to the “how to” of forgiving others. Even if we know we need to forgive others, sometimes it is difficult to do so. But the realization that we most likely have hurt others from whom we need forgiveness, that we can hurt others without knowing we have done so or the extent to which we have done so, for me makes being able to forgive so much easier. The phrase “but for the grace of God go I” comes to mind.
I should and can forgive the transgressions of others because they may not have even known the fact or extent of the injury they caused. Having not walked in the shoes of the one who has hurt me I don’t know what was going on in their lives that caused them to act as they did toward me. Maybe they were hurting themselves and just could not see or appreciate the consequences of their actions. Jesus said, “forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” We need to do the same.
I know this does not completely address the situation in which someone intentionally harms another. One example from this morning’s news is the story in which five teenage boys doused another 15-year-old boy with rubbing alcohol and set him on fire. According to the news they did this because the boy had snitched on the them to the police. How on earth will that boy and his family ever forgive these transgressors? How indeed. We don’t know the circumstances of these five teenagers and what would drive them to do this. We don’t know whether they were motivated by fear, or had been taught hatred and violence in their homes. We have not walked in their shoes.
What I do know is that to forgive and to be forgiven leads to spiritual, emotional, and physical healing. And that can only make the world a better place.