DayBreaks for 9/04/17: As We Forgive Others
From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:
From The Scrivener, blog by Doug Dalrymple:
“I know that all the Hutus who killed so calmly cannot be sincere when they beg pardon, even of the Lord. But me, I am ready to forgive. It is not a denial of the harm they did, not a betrayal of the Tutsis, not an easy way out. It is so that I will not suffer my whole life asking myself why they tried to cut me. I do not want to live in remorse and fear from being Tutsi. If I do not forgive them, it is I alone who suffers and frets and cannot sleep… I yearn for peace in my body. I really must find tranquility. I have to sweep fear far away from me, even if I do not believe their soothing words.” The quote is from a Rwandan school teacher named Edith. She is interviewed in Jean Hatzfeld’s book, Une Saison de Machettes, reviewed here by Theodore Dalrymple.
“Edith’s sentiments are telling, I think. When we withhold forgiveness from someone who has wronged us, we often do so because we feel that to forgive that person would be to give him something beautiful, a gift he manifestly does not deserve. I think this is an accurate instinct; forgiveness truly is a gift. Forgiveness may, in measure, relieve the perpetrator from the burden of his crime, or the spiritual consequences of it – provided the perpetrator is, in fact, conscious of that burden or those consequences.
“But not all are conscious of their crimes or culpability. Speaking from my own experience as a sinner, it is easy enough for a man to remain ignorant (willfully or otherwise) of the hells he’s unleashed in the lives of others. In his novel, Silence, Shusaku Endo writes that sin “is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind.” But even in such cases, when we withhold forgiveness we only make ourselves victims twice over. The perpetrator may never appreciate the gift of forgiveness, but the walls we build in our hearts against our neighbor serve also to separate us from God. We cannot at once be separated from our neighbor and united to God. Without forgiveness, there is no peace. As Edith says, “If I do not forgive them, it is I alone who suffers and frets and cannot sleep… I yearn for peace in my body.”
Isn’t it interesting how we want to make everyone pay for the things they’ve done to hurt us? And how little we want to pay for the hurts we’ve inflicted on others – we usually explain them away with a toss of the hand or head or some remark about how they deserved what they got because of something they’d done. But I think Doug’s point is valid: “We cannot at once be separated from our neighbor and united to God.” Isn’t that what it means when we’re told that if we don’t love our neighbor, we can’t love God? 1 John 4:20 (NLT) – If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen?
PRAYER: Jesus, your love alone is fully holy and righteous, and we have so much need to learn to love as you do! Help us to start by learning to forgive from the heart, not just for the sake of others, but for our own sake as well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>