Forgiveness Can Be Hard

The Coronavirus shutdown continues. Some states are beginning to lift restrictions. New York State, where I live, continues under shutdown. We are now around the six week mark. Of course, the challenges caused by the pandemic started before we actually shutdown. We had started social distancing and the shelves in the grocery stores went bare (I still wonder where all the toilet paper is).

With so much cancelled, we find ourselves stuck home and without much to do. (I hope you have used some of the time to work on your relationship with God and pray more).

Thus, our patience might be tried. Perhaps we find ourselves getting “frustrated” with the people we live with. We need to forgive them. Or maybe we are the ones who need to be forgiven. Forgiveness is not always easy.

Maybe you get “frustrated” when you encounter empty shelves at the grocery store. Where has all the stuff gone? If the frustration gets to you, remember to forgive, to let go.

With a lot of time on our hands, perhaps you have been thinking of your own sins and how you need forgiveness from others and God. The good news is God is eager to forgive. He is the father who can’t wait to forgive the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Are you the wayward son who needs to be forgiven? Are you the father who is eager to forgive? Or are you like the older brother who doesn’t want to forgive?

A couple of years ago I did a presentation called, Why Is It So Hard to Forgive Myself (and others)? (available on video here). In this presentation, I talked about various reasons we might struggle to forgive ourselves and to believe that God wants to and does forgive us. The reasons can be the same for why we struggle to forgive others. In the presentation, I go so far as to say sometimes it is easier for God to forgive us than it is for us to forgive ourselves. We must realize that God’s forgiveness is a gift that He chooses to give us.

In the presentation, I also talk about “what forgiveness is not”. Sometimes, our struggle to forgive is because we equate “forgiveness” with “forgetting”. While there is overlap, they are not the same. The one thing I would like to add today to what is included in the presentation is something I heard more recently on how we know we have forgiven someone.

I forget the source but they listed three things required for forgiveness.
1. We wish good for them.
2. Be willing to be polite to them.
3. Be willing to and actually do pray for them.

No grudges. We might not want to be around them but when we are, we are polite. We pray for them. What do we pray for? Our goal in praying for them should not be that we are proven right. We pray that everyone involved realize the error of our ways and turn our hearts to God. We pray for them to turn their lives over to God. If that brings reconciliation between us, that is wonderful. Above all, we pray for God’s Will to be done.

Forgiveness is not easy. However, it is necessary. It is necessary not just for the one who needs the forgiveness. It is necessary for the one who has been wronged to let go of the hurt.


Fr. Jeff

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