One of my first posts in this blog, way back last September, was about forgiveness. It was based on the lectionary passage for the day – Matthew 18: 21-35. That was Sunday, September 11, 2011; the tenth anniversary of 9/11. My Lenten Calendar lists that passage as today’s reading as well.
*heavy sigh* It’s not that I think there is nothing left to be said about forgiveness. It’s more that I don’t think I’m ready to go back there yet. I’m certainly no expert. I often have a great deal of trouble letting go and forgiving. In fact it was good for me to go back and read that post again. I need to remember that we are called to forgive over and over, as many times as it takes to let go and not be tied to the anger and hurt and confusion any more.
Just a couple of weeks ago a friend I have known since 7th grade and I were discussing our regret over the way we talked about and treated another person we went to school with. The worst of it was we had both had the experience of running into him years after high school and he was so nice to us. He treated us as if we were his great friends in high school. And we weren’t.
I don’t think I ever said anything directly to this person that was cruel or derogatory, but I thought it. The crowd I ran with said plenty to each other about him, and all because he was different. Turns out my friend and I both confessed to each other that part of why we participated was that we also felt we were different from everyone else. We longed to be one of the group and we felt, if not exactly outsiders, at least on the verge of being discovered and cast into the outer darkness of isolation and rejection. I know how dramatic that sounds, but that’s exactly how it felt.
Maybe the boy who was different really didn’t know how awful we were when we weren’t around him. Maybe he did and he simply forgave us. The bottom line is that neither my friend or I have forgiven ourselves – not completely. We still feel bad about this and we graduated from high school 38 years ago.
Thirty. Eight. Years. Ago. Isn’t it time to practice what I preach? Literally. Isn’t it time to love myself enough to forgive the adolescent angst that I projected onto someone else who was even weaker and less acceptable than I was? I think it’s time.
At the beginning of Lent this year I asked during a children’s sermon what the kids thought they would feel on Easter morning. One of them responded, “Joy!” That wasn’t exactly what I was expecting to hear, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. I encouraged everyone that morning to spend the six weeks of Lent doing whatever it would take to make it possible for them to feel joy on Easter morning.
What will it take for me to feel joy on April 8? Forgiveness. Acceptance of God’s forgiveness and allowing myself to forgive myself. Who am I to hold onto the guilt if God forgives it. I do regret what I thought and said and did back then. I have tried to relate to people differently since then.
It’s time. Candi, you are forgiven. Thanks be to God.