Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Those raised in the Christian faith know this as part of the Lord’s Prayer. But do you know the verses following the Lord’s Prayer? “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Just in case you need it spelled out because you weren’t paying attention when you were praying.
Personally, I don’t think God is that stingy with forgiveness. I believe that we live in a perpetual state of eternal grace. I don’t think we can do anything to earn it or lose it. I believe it is who we are. Everyone. Of any faith or no faith.
My failure to forgive does not change who I am. Nor does it affect whoever it is that I am not forgiving. What it does is block my awareness of grace. I don’t like my awareness of grace blocked. So I try to forgive everyone. Including myself. Sometimes that is hard. Especially if I am stuck in victim mode.
Awhile back I was having a really hard time forgiving someone. I’ll call him Fred. I blamed Fred for, well, everything that seemed wrong with my life at that time, which was a lot. I read books on forgiveness. I did workbooks on forgiveness. But I was stuck. I obsessively revisited all the wrongs I thought I had suffered at the hands of Fred, like watching news accounts of some crime over and over. It was an addiction–I couldn’t stop.
Finally I started saying a prayer every time I thought about him, as soon as I thought of him, before the emotions started churning. God bless Fred and please help me mean it. Let me be clear. I did not mean it. But I had to break the habit of blame. I had to forgive, for my sake. So I prayed this prayer over and over. And over time, very slowly, I began to soften. My feelings didn’t boil when a thought about him crossed my mind. And finally one day I said it and I realized that I really did mean it. It felt like a miracle. It was, I think.
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