A Great Book on Forgiveness
Since that last post wore me out for 3 solid weeks
My last post on unforgiveness about wore me out. What would I hold on to, what would shield me, once the warmth of unforgiveness dropped from my hands? I love Jesus, but do I trust him (or anyone) with vulnerable me? Do I trust myself to walk in forgiving and not snatch unforgiveness back with the first cold breezes of memory?
I had planned on simply writing a list of people and organizations to forgive, and then praying over it and burning it, but a wise friend, Judy, suggested some books to read on forgiveness, and the first book I am reading has stopped and redirected me, and I wanted to share it with you. The Book of Forgiving, co-written by the late Rev. Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho, who is also a priest, describes the Four-Fold Path of Forgiveness:
Telling your story
Naming the harm
Renewing or releasing the relationship
I crave a guide who has walked the path of forgiveness seriously, not just a predator who likes to season his prey with guilt—you know what I mean?—the people who never seem to need to ask for forgiveness, yet bludgeon congregations and victims with it? That’s not either of the Reverends Tutu. I am drinking in their book like spring water after a trek in the desert.
The good news is that they are capable guides. The challenge is walking this path, and not just praying and burning. Forgiveness, as it turns out, is rigorous work, and non-linear. Honestly, this is a relief for me to encounter, because I thought I was doomed the first time I couldn’t just forgive in an instant. I kept picking unforgiveness back up for warmth.
So my goal now is not forgiveness in an instant, but an intentional act of keeping my hands free; taking the blanket of unforgiveness that warmed me, folding it up, and laying it down. That 70x7 forgiveness that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 18? Sometimes it’s just the act of laying that unforgiveness back down, again and again. I had limited the scope and depth of forgiveness as an equal and opposite reaction to the offense committed. It’s more than that (at least for me); sometimes it’s dealing with the cycle of grief and anger from the same offense, and choosing to walk the 4-fold path toward forgiveness. Again and again.
Wise words! Thank you.
Forgiveness wears. me. out. And yes - due to the fallen nature of this body that will not let me forget offenses, and that some offenders continue to be out there offending, and I can't get away from hearing about it and being re-triggered. All of these are things that I know you know. So yes, forgiveness wears. me. out.
Praying for you.