Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Forgiveness, Part V

Another song about forgiveness, lyrics are posted below, followed by my comments.

Forgiveness – Susan Werner

 How do you love those who never will love you
 Who are happy to shove you out in front of the train
 How do you not hate those who would leave you lie bleeding
 While they hold their prayer meeting

 How do you love those who never will love you
 Who are so frightened of you they are calling for war
 How do you not hate those who have loaded their Bibles
 And armed their disciples, cuz I don't know anymore

 And I can't find forgiveness for them anywhere in this
 And with God as my witness I really have tried
 How do you love those who never will love you
 I think only God knows and he is not taking sides
 I hope one day he shows us how we can love those
 Who never will love us but who still we must love
 How do you love those?

     So that's the song.  I get it.  I do.  When there are injustices or meanness, especially when it is thrown at people I love, or when it is a huge and dreadful injustice, I understand why it can feel almost empowering to cling to anger or hatred instead of choosing love and forgiveness.  And if that can move us into changing, confronting, healing the injustice, then that can be a gift.
     But I also continue to believe with every bone in my body that when we don't forgive, the person we tear apart is ourselves.  That lack of compassion is a wall we build, not only between ourselves and the other, but between ourselves and God.  God is love.  If we can't tap into love, for any person, we are failing to connect with God, or let that God of love into our hearts.  If we continue to hate, we distance ourselves from God.  Actually, I can't think of a more effective way to distance from God or to destroy our own souls than to cling to hatred or anger.  As a good friend of mine said, the one word that Satan cannot tolerate is forgiveness.  Yes.  Forgiveness is the ultimate expression of God's love - for us and by us, out of love for God, to one another.
      Personally, I can't afford to house anger in my body.  I don't have the room, the time, the energy to hold hatred in my being.  I don't choose to give power to those who would hate me or hurt me by allowing them to injure my spirit by infecting it with unforgiven anger or hatred.    It doesn't mean I don't get angry.  Of course I do.  Anger is a feeling, and feelings just are - they just happen.  But we have a choice about what to do with that anger when it arises.  Will we take it and try to make healing, restoration and reconciliation out of it?  Will we talk to those with whom we are angry and try to understand, have compassion, and make amends for our parts in the wrongs?  Or will we cling to the anger, create an impenetrable wall that separates us from God and one another?  Will we turn the anger inwards (depression), failing to forgive ourselves and again, creating a wall between us and God?  Will we fail to look at ourselves, but stand in self-righteous hatred towards others, forgetting that all of us fall short, all of us make mistakes and that the way for all of us to heal is to work together towards reconciliation, compassion, understanding and grace?
     I know it isn't easy to forgive.  But it is necessary.  Absolutely necessary - for our own healing and for the healing of the world.