...And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. ?Matthew 6:12
The first part of that sentence flows easily and eagerly from my lips. It's the second part that I sometimes stumble over. What is it about extending forgiveness to others that's so incredibly hard? Why would we choose instead to tightly clasp our grudges, willing to hold our breath until we eventually suffocate?
I have come to understand the struggle of forgiveness as an internal wrestling with myself, rather than an ongoing quarrel with the offender. Forgiveness, then, is not merely letting someone off the hook for their trespasses, but becomes, instead, an act of self-love for the forgiver.
There is such power in being right, isn't there? Knowing to your core that your expectations are righteous and honorable. And letting go of that toxic power takes real strength that only God can give us. As we release our grasp, we are freed to move forward, no longer chained to the bad experience.
We all live with regret, guilt, and burdens. Praise God for forgiving us and lovingly freeing us from painful feelings time and time again. In the same way, we are instructed to forgive our debtors by extending to them that very same love. To be forgiven is to be loved. God knows that only when we let go of the hurt and the desire to be right are we free to truly live and love in relationship with others, in the way He created us.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console.
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
~ Prayer of St. Francis