May 6, 2008

Forgiveness, Mercy and Love

Of forgiveness, mercy and love—those elements of grace which each of us needs—I believe that forgiveness is the most difficult. To offer forgiveness, one must be willing to forego justice, thereby imparting mercy as well. There lies within each of us a scale of justice, measuring the weight of each act, seeking balance. Forgiveness removes the weights and negates the scale.

It is easier by far to forgive another than it is to truly forgive oneself. We know all the transgressions, the omissions, the desires, the truth of who we are. I was able to attain a state of peace even amidst life’s turmoil when I fully acknowledged God’s forgiving love and understood His acceptance for who I am. It took a long time. Knowing God’s forgiveness gave me the ability to forgive myself for that ever-growing list of sinful behaviors. I am free, not so much to sin—although I do—but to share that grace.

Therein lies the secret of God’s love: it is not intended to be a weapon with which we wage war on one another or within; it is a powerful magnet that pulls in not only the weak and broken but the strong and vibrant too. For within its grip we are all intimately connected, equal and whole.


bigislandjeepguy said...

i'm curious if you consider yourself religious or spiritual.

i confess that there have been many things i have witnessed that have rocked my faith in my adult life. watching a brother die from AIDS, painfully. watching a mother die from lung cancer, painfully. both of them prayed not for healing, but for a lack of suffering. and both of them suffered. i know it is not for me to understand god's will, but...well...i didn't. and i don't. and i question.

i have encountered too many "religious" people who are quick to point fingers at who is doing what wrong and waging judgment as to who is going to hell and why. and it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff anymore with what seems like the daily expose of supposedly christian preachy people who say one thing, then get caught doing another.

i dunno. just a shake up of my faith.

Birdie said...

It is my heartbreak that many people—including myself at one time—spurn God because of the failures of men who claim to represent Him. Rather than look at those who separate you from God, find those who draw you to Him. They make you like who you are when you’re with them. And in their company, talk and learn about the nature of God and what that means to you.

I’ve never been asked before: spiritual or religious? Since I am on staff of a church, I guess I’d have to say both. Although I am not ordained, I participate in the ritual that people find comfort in, a way to explore their relationship with God in company of more-or-less likeminded people.

But those same people who drive seekers away are giving the word “religious” a negative connotation. Note that although I am a Christian, you don’t see it in my profile. I had it there, but then I realized it could drive away someone who might otherwise be interested in discourse about God. It’s hardly a secret; and it will become more apparent in my writing.

I have so many questions to ask God when we come face-to-face. And having watched my own brother die a slow and agonizing death with AIDS, suffering of the innocent is high on my list. But I can’t pretend to know what God knows. All I can do is accept what is and find a way to share His grace in those circumstances.

Thanks for your input, Jeepguy.


bigislandjeepguy said...

my pleasure. and thanks for your comment back.

my sympathies about your brother. honestly, my brother has really been the only major experience i have had with hiv/aids. i know there are many who have war wounds and stories that would make one's head spin, but i have a lived a somewhat sheltered life from it. aside from hearing, "oh, so and so passed away from complications from aids," i was never so close to it as with my brother. i remember my mom relaying to us that someone came to visit him before he died from the local church and the first thing he said was something to the effect of, "you must repent your lifestyle or you will never see the kingdom of god." imagine. that. and imagine, my mom, a devout church-going christian, kicking his ass OUT. when i flew to attend his funeral, i was apprehensive of the minister or priest or whatever he was that was going to be there, but instead was comforted by the jesus-sandal-wearing, bearded, young, friendly face that was nothing but comforting to everyone.

i'm sure you know, that sometimes there are less of those types of people and more of the bible thumping, closed minded, supposed "christian" people around. i once had a "christian" employee who within a one week period told another co-worker, the sweetest girl EVER, who was living with her boyfriend that she was living in sin, AND told another co-worker whose friend had just been run over on his bicycle and killed by a truck that the friend had not been saved and he was going to hell. and, she could not design a simple pair of bunny ears with the company logo on them at easter because easter was NOT about the easter bunny, it was about jesus. aye.

Java said...

Compelling discourse here. It touches a lot of things I find confusing, too.

Birdie, thank you for this post. It helps organize some of the thoughts that have been floating around in my head recently.

Bill said...

Oh, how I love this discussion!

I have this crazy feeling that God (however you perceive him or her) wants us to point our fingers at the people Jeepguy describes and just laugh our asses off at them. I say this because I believe that God has a most irreverent sense of humor - beyond what we can even imagine. As proof I offer the giraffe, the platypus, and the human.

To me, it is ridiculous and beyond ignorant to find evil in an Easter Bunny, sin in a loving relationship, or justification for judging others when they are on their deathbeds.

My partner died with AIDS. It was painful and horrible to watch. But what I remember most were the moments of grace, his humor despite his ordeal, and his concern for others instead of himself. And his humility. It was one of the purest indications of God working within us that I have experienced.

Today, I choose not to deny my spirituality because of others' claims to be God's mouthpieces. I know better. God expects a lot from us, but it never includes questioning God's love for others. I have plenty of my own faults to keep me busy, and I think God's laughter with me stops when he sees me playing with his relationship with someone else.

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

What a great feeling it was to learn the lesson of forgiveness. To understand its power, and moreover, to understand how enjoyable and rewarding it is to forgive. Until you learn that lesson, you always think that you're going to lose something when you grant forgiveness, but the opposite is true. You gain heaps.
First, you practice on yourself. I remember reading that Kitty Carlyle once said that every morning she would look in the mirror and say "I forgive you."

Spirit & Flesh said...

Hey Birdie,

Forgiveness is definitely the biggie for everyone. This is especially true when it comes to forgiving ourselves. Nice blog redesign.


P.S. I'll add your link to my blog.