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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

God's Point of View

What about any tips on forgiving and loving our enemies, especially family members that harm us maybe even in a criminal way eg. outrage of modesty? Thanks!

A little, although I think it is extremely difficult to get our heads around it all. There is a name for people who successfully navigate the waters of forgiving the unforgivable: saints.

The first bit of confusion lies in the idea that when we forgive someone it somehow means we okay with their transgression.  Often accomplish this very simple form of forgiveness and we do employ it all the time when someone forgets our birthday or shows up two hours later for the Thanksgiving dinner with their contribution to the feast, the appetizer. The type of person who hangs onto these petty grievances is a sad soul indeed.

These are the moments when the phrase "love conquers all" seems to be true.

God's love conquers all. Ours is often found wanting.

The key word to your question is "enemies". Forgiveness is a very different task when we're no longer talking about the snippy remark your sister made about your new shoes or that person who shot into the parking space you spotted after they just pulling into the lot you've been circling for 20 minutes. An enemy is someone who is actively trying to harm you.

Do we have to forgive them? I sorry to tell you, yes.  In fact, Jesus went a step further and said we have to love them.

To be honest, I find it easier to love them than to forgive them.  I, too, get hung up in the barbed wire fence of forgiveness implying that I'm okay with the horror they're perpetrating. As far as I can tell, I have to forgive them over and over again.

Which sounds awful, until I imagine God saying to us all, "Welcome to my life."

The only way I've been able to keep my head above water in the forgiveness department is to try to see the person as God must see them. His beautiful child, his wonderful creation, all bent and twisted and run over by a bus. To try to have compassion for the tortured soul so removed from harmony with God's love.

I must add that if someone is doing you harm, or trying to do you harm, you don't have to forgive them from four feet away or sitting in a car with them. You can do it in another state or from across town (if the town is big enough to provide you a safe distance).

The first hermits were people who felt they could not connect with God strongly enough while hanging around with other human beings and so moved farther and farther away from people.  Some found it too difficult to live that austere lifet without the encouragement of other people who were also trying to do it and that's how monasteries were formed.  But I digress.

I just bring up the monks to point out that they went to extremes to keep their own souls safe and you must do the same. Like when you're a  plane and they tell you to make sure you have your own oxygen mask on first before you pass out trying to put one on someone else.

The only other encouragement I can give you is to tell you that forgiving and being forgiven has more power than just about anything else I can think of.

Forgive me for the dangling participle.


Unknown said...

Sister, your medals are never less then any other. I cherish your medals and loving advice. Here is a picture, the best I can find, that describes my present situation. Have you ever heard the expression "Touched by an Angel"?

Unknown said...

I had a Father that some considered abusive. My advice to the person this thread is for is this: Try never to confuse two extremes seen together by keeping an open mind, one extreme is a hatred called jealousy, the second is a love categorized as a human nature of extending guidance in the form of solid advice. The second is also called jealousy but is not.

Steve said...

I had this very conversation with my wife the other day. She asked me-with astonishment, I must add-if I had actually forgiven the so-and-so who had hurt our daughter so badly emotionally. My answer surprised her, I think. I told her I had forgiven him and in fact prayed for him (and especially his soul)every day. She asked me why. I asked her if she thought about the incident every day with anger in her heart. When she said yes, I said "Not me! There's too much hate in the world already. It has to stop somewhere. It might as well stop with me." I haven't forgotten what he did, and we won't let our daughter get in the position to be hurt by him ever again, but I refuse to let it get in the way of my following Jesus' commandment to love one another.

Anonymous said...

I find it easier to forgive others when I don't have to see them regularly.

fisheyone said...

Just wanted to comment on your post on forgiveness. When helping parent prepare their children for Reconciliation I encourage them to be mindful of how they respond to "I'm sorry." If someone bumps into them and says the s word it really means "Excuse me" and its ok to respond with "That's OK." But when someone (their child, for example) says "I'm sorry" for something they have done the response is "I forgive you."

Have a blessed day!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Steve for your comment "Not me! There's too much hate in the world already. It has to stop somewhere. It might as well stop with me."
I had alot of anger towards 2 people in particular.I couldn't imagine ever being able to forgive them.I am a very weak creature.
What worked for me was just asking for the grace to learn to forgive.In time I was given that grace,and now can pray for these people.
I couldn't forgive by free will alone.I really needed that gift of grace. :D

Anonymous said...

Sister, I really love this posting. When you said you have an easier time loving someone than forgiving them I know exactly what you are talking about and was just in the confessional about this yesterday. Thanks for your wonderful point of view! It helps!

May I please ask help finding a saint? I have a lot of changes in myself that I am working hard to make. Unfortunately every time I make one step forward I also take two steps back because I don't believe I can do these things. Problem is for my health and my family's well being I have to do better. Is there a saint who can help either fight negativity or help you to believe/have self-confidence? I know this may sound stupid but my mind seems to be working against me (of maybe I am under attack by the enemy, but I hate to go there). Thank you so much!!! GOD BLESS!!