If someone were to ask me, “what is your favorite spiritual discipline?” I would probably rattle off memorizing the scriptures or visualizing myself as part of a biblical text. Scriptural rosery practice, hymn singing, fasting… truly anything but forgiveness. Why then do I choose this for my focus? Well, because it’s the one that stretches me the most. I don’t like to forgive. There, I wrote it! Forgiveness is hard, it means letting go of control, it means not holding on to my reaction and judgement on someone else for the wrong that they have done me. Forgiveness is surrender and release.
It sounds so nice to think of the spiritual discipline of meditation, but how can one meditate on the peace of Christ, when the blood is boiling under the surface of the heart? Perhaps, this is the reason why Christ includes this in His prayer to the Father, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” What if there is someone struggling to forgive me, the way that I struggle to forgive them? I don’t want Christ to struggle to forgive me from the wrongs that I have done to Him! This is such an important issue, because without the discipline of forgiveness, all other spiritual disciplines will fall flat on their face. Seriously, how can you loudly sing out your Joy through hymns or songs, while the mind is busy listing wrongs? Is it possible to celebrate the eucharist in all its mystery and reverence, if in the back of the mind, one is screaming out judgement? Without God, this task is impossible, and it is sobering to me to examine my heart considering this. Where are these gaping holes where my selfish, judgmental, self-righteousness, grasps so tightly to these wrongs? Where is the Holy Spirit? Peter struggled, and in his pride, he pronounces his pious claim of forgiving someone seven times. What a wonderful Savior we have, one who responds by raising the bar higher and higher and higher towards a love so free and generous, that we stand in awe at the benevolence of Christ. Here I am at the feet of Christ, once again, pleading for forgiveness, and His response is tenderly, yes! Absolutely Yes!
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
MDiv Student. Jennifer lives Zeeland Michigan with her husband and 3 kids