“Forgiveness might just be the very best description of what God’s goodness engenders in humanity.” Richard Rohr
I have done and said things that I regret. My words and actions have hurt other people. I have done so both knowingly and unknowingly. I ask for forgiveness and will strive to take corrective actions to not do these same things again in the future.
I have been hurt by other’s words and actions. I am aware that individuals have done so both knowingly and unknowingly. I offer my forgiveness and am hopeful that they will strive to take corrective actions to not do these same things in the future.
Confession (ownership), seeking forgiveness and striving to take corrective actions are the core of repentance and the gateway to redemption, reconciliation, healing, wholeness and being well. It is a mutually engaging process where both (all) parties are transformed…made well. This is the space where mercy and grace reside.
As we all know there are occasions when one party is unwilling or presently unable to engage in seeking forgiveness or taking corrective actions. These situations are often due to blindness, defensiveness, or lack of acceptance that one has hurt another. And as such they see no reason to engage in the process toward wholeness and mutual wellness.
There are also, as we know, occasions when one party is unwilling or presently unable to engage in offering forgiveness or allowing for corrective actions to change their perspective. These situations are often due to the pain or hurt that has been caused and it presently seems impossible to imagine offering forgiveness and to move toward reconciliation, healing, wholeness and mutual wellness.
In my experience even if one is unwilling to take responsibility for their actions the harmed party can find a path toward healing. Rather than letting those who have caused the pain to continue to bring us pain we have the agency and the capacity to forgive those who are unwilling to seek forgiveness.
Likewise, when another party is unable or unwilling to mutually move forward in forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, we also have the agency and capacity to do our part in taking corrective actions, wholeness, and wellness through seeking God’s forgiveness on our own.
There are two things, however, that I believe are irrefutable. When I have not forgiven someone, when I have worked against any movement towards reconciliation and healing I am not whole, not well. Secondly, fundamental to every major religion and certainly at the core of those of us who have chosen to follow in the way of Jesus is that we are called to both seek forgiveness and to forgive…”forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others.” “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
So many passages like these and others make it clear that we are called to be in relationship with God, neighbor, self and that only happens if we are willing to engage in the path of forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation…because that is the only way we will be whole…well.
“When somebody you’ve wronged forgives you, you’re spared the dull and self-diminishing throb of a guilty conscience. When you forgive somebody who has wronged you, you’re spared the dismal corrosion of bitterness and wounded pride. For both parties, forgiveness means freedom again to be at peace inside one’s own skin and to be glad in each other’s presence.”