Friday, August 16, 2013

Forgiving

When we are hurt, we are so quick to take things personally.  We can't believe they would do that to us, put us through all that pain.  And the more we focus on that, the worse we feel.  This is because one of the most critical elements of forgiveness is the ability to stand back, outside of the wound, and see things are they really are.  This is what Jesus did when he hung bleeding and dying on the cross and uttered those echoing words, "Forgive them, Father.  For they know not what they do."

Jesus' words are real and they are timeless.  It was not a minimization of the sin done to him.  We get nowhere by dismissing our feelings about the wrong.  But it was an acknowledgement that, on some level, mankind is dysfunctionally crazy.  We are mad.  We don't really even know what we are doing.  We are like mad dogs, chewing through just about anything to get the food we crave.  We are led around by our desires and by the brokenness of our experiences in this sinful world.  We are complicit, for sure, but on another level we are clueless, unaware, even deranged animals.

And truly... most people, if you really look at it, are not trying to personally attack you and ruin your life.  Most of the time, they are just very confused individuals who don't really know what they want or what they are doing in life.  They are chasing after phantoms and fantasies of a heaven on earth.  They are chasing after idols that they think will make life all better... something all of us do to some degree.  They aren't so much thinking about how to hurt you as they are just thinking about themselves.

And so to forgive someone you must come to the place where you can see them as people outside of yourself.  You can look at them outside of the situation and realize, "Hey, they are confused and clueless.  It is sad what happened, and it hurts badly.  But they probably don't really don't even know what they are doing.  They are just one more screwed up person in this world, like the rest of us, and I will only torture myself the more I try to make this all about me."

When you focus on your wound, when you focus on what they have taken from you, and when you analyze and focus on how screwed up and bad the person is, you only poison yourself and unwittingly making the offender much bigger and more important than they actually are.  I know how it is.  In your hurt, you don't want to let them go, so you do focus on these things.  But it only keeps you in chains and detaches you from reality. 

Instead, come to peace with reality.  They are wrapped up in their own ways and own thoughts and, because of that, hurt you.  You could freak out and hurt them because of how angry and hurt you are, but you won't because you care about what is right and have maturity.  But they are just one of the whole screwed up human population.  As bad as they seem to you in your life, they are just a person... one screwed up person out of billions.  They aren't that special.  They aren't as big as you make them out to be in your pain.

What is better... to live as though this person is this big horrible monster who hurt you and humiliated you, making you feel so low, as they reject and betray you and replace you and carry on freely with their lives, always feeling like a loser and living as a prisoner to your desire to see them fail and be hated by others for what a bad person you know them to be (which may never ever happen)... or to not take it personally, to live as though this person is just one other person in this world who is a sinner and who is confused, whose path crossed yours and impacted your life with their sin and distortion about reality, and now you can send them, just one common person, off to live their life as you pick up the pieces of your own to find a fuller and less painful life?

So forgive them, for they know not what they do, and reclaim your life and future on God's earth.

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