Skip to main content

Forgiveness: Going Beyond the Hurt

Last night I had the wonderful privilege of hearing one of my dear friends give a talk about forgiveness and redemptive suffering.   What made the talk so captivating was the powerful personal witness of my friend. About a year ago she while she was working she suffered a freak accident which shattered her pelvis, 3 discs, and left her without the ability to walk normally again.  To make matters even worse this accident was the result of gross negligence of one of her coworkers.   She had gone from a vivacious, active woman, full of hopeful dreams and aspirations, to a woman who could barely stand or walk.  In a cruel twist of fate she also related to us how her doctor told her that she would most likely never be able to have children.  She spoke about how the Lord had given her the grace to forgive, but still despite the grace she still had to make the fundamental decision to decide each and every day to forgive.  Despite her terrible ordeal she also spoke how her suffering united her more closely to the lord, how through her suffering she was able to accept the Lord's grace and strength.  Finally she related how we as a nation must forgive Jared Lee Loughner, the Arizona shooter and accept God's redemptive healing.

It was difficult holding back my tears because she was a good friend of mine.  I had gotten to know her well through working together at Spirit and Truth, a Eucharistic adoration ministry geared towards young adults.  I was always inspired by her contagious joy, she always seemed so cheerful.  She could lift your spirits by just looking at you.  I often times felt that we had a saint in our midst. Her witness helped to put my attitudes towards suffering in perspective.  I am a terrible sufferer, I complain, complain, and I throw very elaborate pity parties.  If complaining were an art than I would be Michelangelo. I remembered distinctly how just a few minutes before arriving to the talk how I had cussed off a car that inadvertently cut me off.  In short I am a ungrateful wretch, I am far too short sighted to see how the Lord has blessed me so extravagantly in my life for example:

  • I am married to the best woman in the universe
  • I am healthy, I have all my limbs, and faculties
  • I have a beautiful, cozy condo down the shore
  • I have the Lord Jesus in my life
  • I have friends, family, that love me
  • I live in the greatest country on earth
  • I have car, although beaten up and ugly still takes me from point A to point B
Here I was complaining about the difficulties of my internship while my friend would not probably be able to walk normally or have children. I realized that I needed to do two things on a regular basis: 1) Be more grateful for the blessings of the Lord and 2) Forgive those who hurt me.

The last step is the most difficult for me.  Unfortunately I have attributed forgiveness to ultimate passivity, a sign of great weakness.  Too many times I had witnessed in my life, that "turning the other cheek" was a just an invitation for abuse.  For years I had harbored this view, and I am sad to say I still have a long way to go on this end.  I hate injustice, I think its abhorrent that I should forgive injustice.  Isn't God after all a God of Justice? If everyone keeps forgiving and turning the other cheek won't evil eventually triumph?  If we would have had this, "turning the other cheek" mindset with Hitler, then the entire world would be saying "Sieg Heil" today.  Why should we forgive Jared Lee Loughner after all, he killed an innocent girl, and 5 other people?  Like I said before I hated injustice, but through this talk something inside of me began to shift...

I began to learn that forgiveness had nothing to do with feelings. Forgiveness instead was a cold hearted, rational and systematic releasing of a spiritual debt that one had unjustly incurred. I may have been hurt in the past, but by not forgiving I was incurring spiritual debt and if I continued towards this ruinous path it would only harden my heart creating an inhuman wall of of bitterness.  To die in bitterness would be the ultimate refusal of God's graces, a pathetic and a most unfitting way to live a half life.

It is my prayer that the Lord gives me the grace of forgiveness so that like my friend I can be cheerful and radiate God's hope though my daily sufferings.   I might have a long way to go, but at least I am starting.

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

10 Great Quotes from The Book of Sirach

The book of Sirach is a book that is often overlooked in the bible. This is unfortunate since this book contains many wise, practical saying on how to live a virtous life. The book was believed to have been written between 200-175 B.C.E.

Here are ten quotes that I feel best reflect this timeless work.

1."Do not become a beggar by feasting with\borrowed money, when you have nothing in your purse." Sirach 18:33

2."In all you do remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin." 7:36

3.."Glory and dishonor come from speaking; a man's tongue is his downfall." 5:13"

4."A wise man is cautious in everything." 18:27

5."One who trusts others is light minded." 19:4

6."If you pursue justice, you will obtain it and wear it as a glorious robe." 27:8

7."Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but no many as have fallen because of the tongue." 28:18

8." In all of your work be industrious and no sickness will…

George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and The Afterlife

I was stunned, as was most of the world was when I heard about the passing of George Michael on Christmas day.  Michael possessed enormous talent was and one of the most successful acts in the 1980's and early 90's

Shortly after Carrie Fisher died.  Fisher was famous for her legendary role as princess Leia from the Star Wars movies.  Strangely her mother also died the day after.

2016 was notable year for celebrity deaths.

Some names include: Prince, Glenn Frey, David Bowie,  Doris Roberts, Alan Rickman, and Muhammad Ali.

As a Catholic these deaths got me thinking about the transient nature of life, and the inevitability of death.

Marcus Aurelius, the stoic, emperor, philosopher king wrote about the passing nature of life as he reflected, "Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away."

Even though I agree mostly with Aurelius&#…

Me vs. The Almighty

There is famous scene in the bible where Jacob wrestles with God.  Jacob fights with God until God takes out a bone from Jacob's thigh. Interestingly, God eventually relents and stops fighting with Jacob. After this dramatic incident Jacob is renamed Israel which literally means, "he who struggles with God."

I can relate to this story.  Many times in my life I have argued with God. I still do. (my wife can attest to that.) Many times I have criticized his tactics, his ways, and his wisdom. In my worst moments I have even used choice language. I have a complicated relationship with God. Like Jacob I have wrestled with God. (thigh bone still intact)

Recently I approached a priest friend of mine and told him of my struggles with God.  I expected that he would chide me for my lack of respect and informality. What this priest said was illuminating and encouraging. He told me that it was OK at times to be angry with God, God understood. He in fact encouraged this honesty and o…