Ruby M. Harmon
I must admit that this “Lenten Reflection” has been one of the harder ones to pen. Perhaps because it requires a baring of the soul; a personal revealing; a for- giving of one’s self and others; an admission of our imperfections and egos.
I’ve had to really ponder, “What is forgiveness”? Who is the forgiver? Who is the forgiven? Is it the one I may have wronged or hurt or am I the forgiver?
Throughout my career, clients and friends have shared so many heartbreaking, real stories of injustices, malfeasances, and nefarious acts directed towards them. During my years as a foster care and adoption caseworker, I saw so many innocent abused children and remarked about their ability to forgive and their continued forgiveness into adulthood. Many of these children were dismissed to the very perpetrators who may have abused them. In essence, the children were being asked to forgive, sometimes with the support of counseling. At the time, many of us who served as caseworkers found this disheartening and felt helpless. The resiliency of these children has remained and in some ways informed my professional life. The experiences garnered as a caseworker were invaluable. Many of those experiences prepared me for my current medical work with children and their families.
Medicine continues to teach me a great deal about forgiving self and others: Forgiving myself in moments where my efforts seemed futile and the patient had a “negative outcome” or when I could have been more forthright and championed an injustice. And forgiving others who may have demeaned me, devaluing my worth. There were times that required forgiveness of colleagues and professors who thought stress and humiliation a right-of-passage to becoming a good doctor. Yet, there is a stark realization that these experiences pale in comparison to the atrocities that many have faced and continue to endure.
…And so, I pause… thinking of the bravery of others in the face of adversity; the desire to persevere; the willingness to forgive another their trespasses. I am humbled knowing that forgiveness is a constant, necessary, healing experience and lesson. We are asked to forgive as we are forgiven. As Luke 6:37 reads, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven”.
Indeed, that is a challenge!