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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Record-keeping again?

"Life is an adventure in forgiveness." (Norman Cousins) Let that one settle in for just a bit, please. Life is an adventure - into forgiveness and inside forgiveness. This thing we call forgiveness is a living, breathing, moment by moment existence. It is not a one time makes it all better kind of thing - it is an ever-expansive movement. I often hear people describe this phenomena of forgiveness as "I did it" and that is that. Let me just say the emotion and memory attached to anything that needs to be forgiven - in ourselves or others - takes a little bit more than a "I did it" kind of commitment!

How happy is the one whose wrongs are forgiven, whose sin is hidden from sight. How happy is the person whose sin the Eternal will not take into account. How happy are those who no longer lie, to themselves or others. (Psalm 32:1-2 VOICE)


Forgiveness is two-fold: in the moment, and then into continual action until the memory and pain of the issue becomes less and less. It doesn't matter how much we try to forgive because someone "deserves" our forgiveness, if we don't deal with the memory and emotion attached to the issue which stood between us, the "act" of forgiveness will fall far short of actually taking up the actions forgiveness requires in the long run. There are lots of times we cannot even forgive ourselves for something we have done (or not done) - so how much harder is it to actually let someone else off the hook?

Make no mistake - this forgiveness thing is not for wimps! It requires some effort to actually erase the slate and no longer keep account of the things we once kept account of. We are little "accountants" - all of us. We keep our own account - of the stuff we do wrong and have a difficult time overcoming in life. We keep the books on others - because the stuff they do just rubs us wrong or gets on that last nerve we had left that day. We keep record of stuff people we don't even know that well have disappointed us by - simply because we don't think they should have done something the way they did it!

I have a hard time forgiving myself on occasion - messing up in areas I thought I had a handle on previously. It isn't unusual that I want to use terms such as, "You always..." or "You should have known..." when I think about beating myself up for some repeated offense in my life. I can be harder on myself and keep a more thorough set of books on my misdeeds than most of you might be about me. In fact, I can even read where something has been erased - like a good CSI detective! Now, tell me I am not in this muddle of record-keeping on one's own actions all by myself - I won't believe you!

I know we all have an occasion or two where it becomes hard to let go of what we feel is a wrong we have committed against others or God and truly let the slate be wiped clean. It is like we want to confess it over and over again, somehow forgetting God doesn't keep books on our wrongs! He keeps books on how much grace he pours into our lives, not on how many wrongs required that grace! The more grace he sees, the more beauty we magnify, because we are becoming a mirror that reflects who he is!

Forgiveness of self begins at the foot of the throne of grace. Forgiveness of others begins the same place. We don't just "give" forgiveness - it is first worked out in our hearts at the foot of the cross and then it gets worked out in the actions we extend to others because we want to live out this life of forgiveness. Just sayin!