Alicia Miller Pitterson
In her book, Forgiveness: A Lenten Study, Marjorie J. Thompson invites us to answer the not so rhetorical question: Why forgive? My noble answers would be – it’s God’s way of healing me and others, I’m a better person if I forgive, forgiveness creates space for peace. Of course, this conflicts with my less noble rationalizations – no, they don’t deserve forgiveness, I don’t know if I’m able to be mature in that way, why is the price of peace so one-sided? And further, my thoughts and actions are constantly challenging each other. I think, go to bed early to be rested, while my action fights falling asleep so that I can watch Jimmy Kimmel on late-night TV. It takes the willingness to opt for what is best.
So why forgive? Well, one of the good reasons is that forgiveness holds value. Do I value the person or system in need of forgiveness? Do they value me? In the parable of the prodigal son, the prodigal son, his “do no wrong” brother, and his dad all reflect on the upside of forgiveness and hope, in addition to the problems of not forgiving. For example, the older brother may just have a bad attitude or perhaps he is valuing “what’s in it for me.” I wonder, am I like him? Sometimes, yes. But that’s not what I strive to be.
Instead, I want to be like the dad – “Come in, let’s celebrate, you are forgiven.” Or I want to be forgiven like the prodigal son – “Oh man, I am not worth forgiving but allow me to make steps toward what hope gives.” Hope dries sad tears and replaces them with joy drops. That makes my heart smile.
So forgiveness to me is one of many passageways to hope. Forgiveness stumbles, runs zig-zagging, drags its feet, or crawls through the rough terrain of all that seems wrong with not forgiving – and then arrives at a breathable peace-seeking space where there is infinite room for forgivers and the forgiven, like me, to embrace hope. – Forgiveness moves us.
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.