To be honest, when I first started to think about forgiveness, my initial thoughts focused on choice. As in when I am faced with a circumstance when forgiveness is possible, the decision to forgive or not is my choice. In my mind, forgiveness was an option, not necessarily the only path forward.
After realizing this, it became clear that forgiveness in my mind was heavily rooted in selfishness. In the past, when the opportunity to forgive presented itself, I would too often undertake a careful calculus, weighing the injustice (real or sometimes perceived) that had been done to me against how I felt as a result, after which I would determine whether forgiveness was warranted. If I felt too wronged, then forgiveness was not an option. When I think of forgiveness in this way, not only do I place little value on the humanity of the person that may be forgiven, but, importantly, I foreclose any opportunity to develop a greater connection with God through forgiveness.
This Lent, when the opportunity to forgive presents itself, I am resolved to think about forgiveness not as a personal choice but as the only possibility. I am not saying, however, that I (or anyone) should forgive immediately after being wronged. I have never been subject to some of the traumatic injustices that many in the world experience. I imagine that some injustices are so traumatic, that the victim would require significant time before forgiveness was even an option. Immediate forgiveness, especially in those circumstances, would not be authentic and would have no value to anyone. What I am saying is that I am going to think about forgiveness as essentially the ultimate (and only) resolution in the face of injustice. In doing so, I hope to shift the focus from myself to a focus on developing a path forward to forgiveness, which I believe will provide a greater appreciation of our shared humanity that has been given to us by God.
Friends and members of our Christ Church family have prepared these daily reflections as a means for you to consider how forgiveness informs your faith walk during this holy season. They are a richly diverse group from many different geographies around our nation and globe, formed by a wide variety of traditions.