A couple days ago I was in a virtually empty parking lot and as I looked down through the spaces I could see that not all the lines were perfectly straight. I know for sure that the lines that were drawn work great and that no one would look at the job that the line-painters did and ask for a re-do or a refund. I think that when it gets right down to it we all understand just how hard it is, even with help, to be perfect in anything.
My immediate reaction to these thoughts was to “social media” this out: “We cannot, with our bare hands, draw a straight line or draw a perfect circle. It is by and for grace that we were not meant to.”Receiving grace from another is a blessing and giving grace to one another is, I believe, a blessed obligation. Why is that?
A good friend of mine claims that we are all striving to return to Eden. He’s referring to the Garden of Eden in the Bible. Whether you believe that the Garden was an actual place where God created Adam and Eve, or a poetic symbol of a pure and simple time with fresh wonder and partnership, I believe that we could all find some truth to that claim. I also believe, in the context of our human journey, that with each breath everyone of us is given the chance for grace and to give grace; and that grace ultimately leads to redemption.
Be it redemption to right action, to regaining self-confidence, to restoring peace in relationships or finding the joy in giving and forgiving, there is much to be done. And do we not have a responsibility to point each other in the best direction that we know? Divinely, we were not made with the capacity for perfection. Indeed none of us can claim to have lived a straight line, but this need not be the focus when grace is available to us at every turn to restore, to inspire, and to redeem. For all the grace that you have been given… give those around you that draw less-than-perfect-lines some of that grace.
Luke 12:48 “Everyone to whom much was given, of them much will be required,”
Who should we forgive? How far should our reach of forgiveness go? Is it always out and away?
Obviously we should forgive others. This doesn’t mean letting them hurt you or your loved ones again and again. It means letting go of that hurt in a way that frees you to, again, experience love and acceptance. I have pictured, in my mind, creating a space between myself and that person. As I do this, I see them unattached to me and the circumstance by which I feel offended. I visualize them with their needs and wants, just like I have. From this perspective (and it may take a bit of time to be able to do this) I find human to human sympathy for them. This helps me decide how to proceed. Do I maintain a healthy distance from them or do I seek complete restoration and even press into a deepened intimacy with that person?
We should also forgive our situations. At first read, this might sound a bit silly. However, I think it’s possibly the most practical and present way we can exercise this gift of forgiveness. What if, in the midst of a stressful moment, we paused to breathe and look around at the kids, or at our work/school situation, or at a family interaction and, in that breath, forgave it with all the grace and peace that we would forgive our closest friend or loved one? I would argue that this would give us the room we need to act with clear love and wisdom without blaming ourselves or an innocent bystander.
And last but not least, I believe we should forgive ourselves. This sentence doesn’t always come up in Christian language but do you not believe you are forgiven by Another whose actions and decisions you have pledged to follow, believe and even imitate? Then actively forgive yourself. To follow and pray to a God that is love and then to mentally beat yourself up is incredibly inconsistent isn’t it? Self loathing for the sake of humility is sort of like angrily cutting off your legs because you can’t dunk the basketball. You can humbly know your place and still enjoy the game and confidently grow in your strengths. Christian reader, this week especially, you celebrate being forgiven, now give back by being forgiving even if the one you must forgive looks back at you in the mirror.
Whether you must reach out or within with your forgiveness, it is a gift that you cannot afford to hold tightly. It must be given.