I had a remarkable experience of forgiveness last week. I was simply horrible to someone very dear to me and I was horrified. I hadn't acted that way toward someone in many years (if ever), and worse yet, it was toward someone I have only known a short while. I had no past hurts to draw upon to justify my action, nothing I could point to that would mitigate the offense. It was pure and simple meanness that came solely and completely from me, unprovoked and undeserved.
I rarely get upset or treat my friends badly, but when I am hurt I can be very nasty. It is only after this very unique experience where there was not any harm done or even intended that I realize I have forgotten a big piece of forgiveness, the undeserved and unmerited nature of it.
With so many of my friends and family forgiveness has become routine. Its weight and significance lessened because I have turned it into a quid pro quo rather than forgiveness. Instead of wiping the slate clean, the scales are balanced. Instead of loving, I am enduring. I start to think that I deserve to be forgiven because others are wronging me.
This is not the love or the forgiveness that God offers us through the merit of Jesus. There is never wrong done to me by God and there is always wrong done by me to God. Yet I am forgiven. The slate is wiped clean, my relationship is restored, and I am loved, declared a son of God, an heir with Jesus. I am not overwhelmed by anxiety wondering when I will go too far and sin too much and step outside the bounds of God’s forgiveness…I am simply forgiven. Loved.
This reality crushes me to the core, but I am distracted by my feeble imitation of “forgiveness.” And yet, there are moments like this past week when I am reminded of what I have actually been given and I can scarcely breathe. I am overwhelmed by love, by forgiveness, by grace.
So thank you K. for your inspired forgiveness and grace.