Forgiveness is almost synonymous with Christianity. Indeed it holds a big place in our worship, since we make a corporate confession and absolution each week. But Jesus teaches that we will be forgiven as we forgive. That is to say we can only experience the forgiveness of God if we are willing to forgive other people ourselves. Baring out hearts from those that wrong us also bars our hearts from the love of God.
All that being said, forgiveness, I believe, is one of the hardest spiritual disciplines to practice. I remember a long time ago I was very angry. Some people had wronged my family and hurt my father especially deeply. I carried this anger with me for several years even after I had moved away and no longer had to deal with the people. Then on my birthday I walked a labyrinth (a special form of meditation) and while in prayer in the labyrinth God began to work on me. God taught me that the weight I was carrying was only harming me and those around me. It was doing nothing to the people that had hurt my father. It was like God simply asked me, "wouldn't you like to put this weight down?" I forgave those people that day. Now, this doesn't excuse their actions. They were wrong. Forgiveness isn't about excusing. Indeed forgiveness has nothing to do with the wrong doer. Forgiveness is about the person wronged not carrying the wrong anymore. Its about letting the pain go so that there is space for love and joy again. It about letting the suffering go so that there is space for God to love us.
Forgiveness is not easy, by any means. The story I told above is a golf shot. It is indeed much easier to hold on to anger and hurtfulness. However, it is something to practice, as Jesus said, so that we can be open to God's love. It is another way that we love God with all our heart.
Question for the day:
Who do you need to forgive?
This meditation is also posted on the website of the Church of the Resurrection.