thanksgiving forgiving redux

What happens – and, I am bold to say, I believe this to be a common (universal!) human experience – when one you have forgiven for past indiscretions continues to behave indiscreetly?

I asked myself this question when, during our Thanksgiving Day gathering, I took rueful note that one I had forgiven,(1) continued to act, in my view, in ways that immediately refreshed my memory of prior indiscretions.

Before retiring, as Pontheolla and I recounted the wondrously pleasant day, I relayed my observations, saying, “It almost makes me want to rescind my forgiveness.”

As I seek always (well, chiefly) to be honest with myself and with others, I hasten to add, no, not “almost”. For, given how I felt, I did desire to retract my forgiveness. And, no, not “makes me”, for I don’t believe anyone can compel me to do anything against my will (barring, I think, confronting me with a credible threat to my existence). Rather I would withdraw my forgiveness as a matter of self-righteous choice (which, I confess, is not beyond me) and, thus, at minimal best, not hold the other person responsible for my act of conscious volition.

However, I cannot, did not, and will not revoke my forgiveness…for a host of reasons.

I cannot – I am unable to – withdraw what is not mine, though, paradoxically, yes, I did possess it to give. Jesus teaches, “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”(2) Yet the truth, his truth is that God always acts first to forgive us, thus, empowering us to do the same, therefore, in the words of the Apostle, we are to “forgiv(e) one another, as God in Christ has forgiven (us).”(3)

I did not withdraw my God-given forgiveness because of what I believe to be an existential truth of all human living: No one arrives at any place of good or ill without, in the former case, the helpful hearts and hands of countless folk, known and unknown, seen and unseen and, in the latter case, without the labors of hurtful hearts and hands. Believing, knowing this to be true, only God knows (surely not, never I) and, thus, can judge the measure and consequences of the influences of good and ill on another.

I will not withdraw my God-given forgiveness because I look “in a mirror, dimly,”(4) unable to see and know myself fully.(5) Thus, the plea of the psalmist resonates within me: “O God, who can detect their sins; cleanse me from my secret faults.”(6) As only God can know and, thus, judge the measure and consequences of my self-awareness and self-ignorance, as I pray the blessing of divine mercy, withholding the just punishment I deserve, so I ought and do pray the same for others.

 

Footnotes:

(1) See my previous post, thanksgiving forgiving, November 25, 2017
(2) Matthew 6.14
(3) Ephesians 4.32b
(4) 1 Corinthians 13.12
(5) Indeed, as I live and breathe, I ever am in the process of being and becoming. All I am is greater (at least, different) than what, who I was. And all I will be is greater (again, at least different) from what, who I am.
(6) Psalm 19.12. On immediate reflection, I have enough difficulty dealing with my sins and faults of which I am aware, let alone the ones of which I am not conscious, that is, that are “secret” to me.

4 thoughts on “thanksgiving forgiving redux

  1. Paul,

    I REALLY loved this post!! I’m soooooo glad that you didn’t revoke your forgiveness though it certainly sounded as if the person didn’t necessarily deserve your forgiveness.

    I’m theilled to know that when we forgive others, God forgives us!! That’s more than comforting to me. It does make me wonder why more people don’t forgive others since we get a gift from God because we’ve done so. I also wonder if God is disappointed with us when we can’t of fo t forgive. This is great info especially as we enter the holiday season.

    Much love??
    Loretta

    Liked by 1 person

    • Loretta, one of the wondrous aspects of forgiveness that flies in the face of human reasoning/logic is that we don’t deserve it. If we did, then forgiveness wouldn’t be grace/gift, but rather a wage, in other words something we earned. God continues to try to teach us this fundamental difference and we humans continue to try to earn what God freely, lavishly gives us so that we can and will freely, lavishly give it to others. A hard teaching…a hard truth. Thank goodness…thanks be to God that God is patient with us!

      Love

      Like

  2. Ahhhhh a gift versus a wage!!!! Got it!!! It’s definitely hard not to try to “earn” what we receive from God because we have to work so hard to earn everything else in our lives. We are used to “nothing in life is free”….so the concept that God’s unconditional love is free takes some getting used to!!

    Much Love!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, yes, yes, God’s unconditional love is a difficult concept to grasp and even harder to accept, for, indeed, nothing in life, we are taught, is free. And in grappling with this difficulty, what a wondrous moment I’ve found it to be when, even for an instant, I get it…those moments or instances when another offers me a kindness and I don’t question it or wonder or worry about that person’s motive, but rather simply receive it.

      Love you

      Like

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