Have you ever experienced an incident where you never received an apology from someone that you thought was owed you? Or, if you think hard enough, was there a reason forgiveness never uttered from your lips to another that should have been heard from you? Two very profound questions that require honest responses, or at least a real thought of what it means to be sorry.
Another thought is who among us has lived through an experience growing up that could have become a detriment to living a positive and maturing adolescence were it not for the Grace of God, unbeknown to any of us at the time? There is no doubt many who have lived with insurmountable growing pains never should have been denied what should have been formative and exciting years of growth. So many of these young adults experienced pain of neglect, abuse, or misguided direction from someone who had the responsibility to love, forgive, and guide in a positive manner and failed in their duties as parents or guardians. This is not meant to condemn or denounce the persons responsible for these neglectful actions, rather to find in some way a positive sign that laid hidden under the guise of some who wanted to do right but failed through human weakness as guardians.
I lived that experience and never quite understood the reasons of outbursts and accusations for things that required correction, but not beatings or verbal affronts that were often announced to my friends. To be honest, I was no saint and as a young boy did things that may have made my mother almost pull her hair out, LOL. Looking back I could see how the pressure of the late 1940’s, following the end of the Second World War, the era of the Depression that my parents lived through as young adults, and some or the prejudices my mother’s family experienced in the late 1920’s with an Italian heritage, all with an understanding I learned about as I matured and discovered a way to love as opposed to anger in my mind. I found a way to be forgiving, over-looking the outbursts and accusations as a positive way to see life, and learning not to hate anyone but loving as a way to forgive. I did forgive her long before she passed away and never have been one to hold grudges.
The New Testament has verses that delve into the theme of forgiveness, that give us an ultimatum; “When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.” (Mk. 11: 25). “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you.” (Mt. 6: 15).
Just where and when did the theme of forgiveness come from? To answer that we must go back to the beginning of time (as we know it) and understand that God, in the Trinity of Persons, knew how man would turn aside from His Love and would create a reason to save our souls. This would be known as Divine Forgiveness and we would be forever united with Almighty God. No matter how often we would turn away from Him, reject His Countenance, and look for other ways to live, He would always forgive us. His Mercy is greater than any sin we could commit and therefore that lesson must be the very essence of our looking in a forgiving manner when people hurt us. O how easy it could be to see the goodness in another person if we would only remember that God loved us first and because of that love will always want to forgive us. We need to do the same with each other.
There is a ministry called “Healing of Memories” that brings people together in a thought provoking session and simply asks; “Think back to your earliest years, sometimes even in the womb, when someone brutally hurt you through physical or mental actions (in the womb the voices of hate or violence can be heard and at times stay with that child into adolescence and beyond - I have heard of this with a young man from his time in the womb; story related to me) that you have buried deep in the recesses of your mind. “If that person could stand before you now could you forgive them? Then turn the scenario around and if there was someone that you in turn were abusive to, or hurt them in many different ways and never apologized, if that person was here before you and confronted you could you ask for forgiveness from them?”
These are types of anger, resentment, and pride that reside deep within our persona, at times not even visible any more to our thoughts, that becomes a cancer begin to erode within us. If these negative feelings remain, our ability to adjust to positive feelings and forgiveness will become difficult to find and the end result may affect everything we attempt to accomplish without knowing why.
From the book “Healing of Memories” by Dennis and Matthew Linn, they list four steps in one of their chapters; “When Healing of Memories is Blocked” that can become ways to heal the monster that reside within. I would recommend this book to you from Paulist Press.
1. Love your enemy
2. Do good to those who hate you.
3. Bless those who maltreat us.
4. Pray for those who persecute us.
From the cross, Jesus accomplished all these and more when He stretched out his arms and said; “This much I love you.”