Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"I Could Never . . ." (Part 7 of 7)

All of us have harmed others, and we’ll do it again. We probably find it easier to forgive ourselves for those simple, thoughtless deeds. We tell ourselves, “I was having a bad day.” Or, “I received a bill for a huge amount and couldn’t find the cash to pay it.” Or, “Our son got in trouble with the police last night.” Our self-excusing goes on endlessly. We provide the rationale behind our foolish actions.

That’s not to equate what was done to us as minor. Our tendency is to condemn our abusers by focusing on the horror of what they did to us. “I would never . . . ,” we say. Or, “I could never . . .”

I think of a Bible verse I memorized many years ago: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

We’ve all made mistakes and harmed others; we will again. We may rightly call them minor, but it’s only a matter of degree.

We find it easier to practice forgiveness when we can imagine that the roles could have been reversed. Each of us could have been the perpetrator rather than the victim. Each of us has the capacity to commit the wrongs that were done to us. Although I might say, “I would never . . . ,” genuine humility answers, “I hope that, given the same circumstances, I wouldn’t . . .”

But can we ever really know? “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Because I’ve learned to forgive the simple things I’ve done to others, 
I can learn to forgive the serious things others did to me.

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