As a mom to many and a seasoned religious education teacher, I have given the whole biblical forgiveness spiel a hundred times. I have explained Matthew 6:14-15 which states we must forgive others in order to be forgiven ourselves. I have talked about Matthew 18:22, which tells us we are supposed to forgive up to seventy times seven, to a child who has had it with forgiving a sibling that keeps hitting her day after day after day. I have talked about how we all commit sins and hope we will be forgiven and just because someone else’s sin seems worse than our own at the moment, it does not mean we have the right to be the judge of that person and withhold forgiveness. That’s God’s job.
And then my husband, one of the hardest working men you’ve ever seen, was fired.
He was competent and worked more hours than most people could fathom and was fired over a personality conflict that he was barely aware existed.
The rage I feel towards the person who did this is not a feeling I am accustomed to experiencing. Sure, I have been mega-pissed before, enough to know I am an angry crier, but this is different. It is a heart-wrenching, soul-crushing, intense, unsubsiding anger. I do not understand how someone can flippantly alter the lives of an entire family, simply to ease a little frustration for himself.
He didn’t just do this to my husband. He didn’t just do this to me. He did this to my children and that is not so easy to forgive.
Just days later, I stood teaching a junior high religious education class and a girl asked, “How do you forgive people when they do, like, really, really mean stuff?”
My feelings for that person flashed through my mind and tears pressed behind my eyes, “I don’t know,” I said. I surprised myself with that response, and I fumbled in my brain for that forgiveness spiel, but the only addition I could come up with was, “Pray.”
As I contemplated my answer later that night, I realized that not only do I not know anymore, I never knew. It is the first time I have understood the source of an angry cry: the intertwining of rage and deep sorrow. I’d always thought of myself as an easily forgiving person in the past, but I discovered I had never dealt with a hard forgiving. When someone rocks your family’s world and throws your life into a tailspin of uncertainty and fear for the future, it’s different than the normal day to day offenses in life. You cannot ‘forgive and forget’ as they say. It is the last thing you think about each night before you fall asleep and the first thought that slaps you in the face each morning. It continues to be with you. It is a scab ripped from your flesh too soon every single day.
So today I pray for the forgiveness of my unforgiving. I pray for help to forgive because I have learned that for the hard forgiving, it cannot be done alone.