Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Forgiveness is Not Optional

The way I understand the Christ model (and others) for the healthiest way of being in this world is to receive and extend forgiveness. I've always had a tendency to embrace the spiritual meaning behind such ideology when I could intuitively sense the grounding in good psychology. We are wired to heal and thrive in the presence of grace. Anything less is toxic.

I have learned that forgiveness often includes the need for boundaries. I have done much examination to come to the point of forgiveness for C. Church. No doubt they have had to do much work forgiving me. My relationship with them will be forever changed yet I can pray that ministry abounds there. I can pray that their love for one another and for God grows in such a way that community abounds. I can pray that they are that city sitting on a hill shining a bright light to those in darkness. I can hope that they are blessed and, at the same time, know that it is all for the best that I am outside of that circle. The act of forgiveness has allowed me to step back and see through a more realistic lense. Of course, I prefer my own lense which prefers my own point of view. I could hold onto that point of view and never move on but that only holds me prisoner while they have moved on a long time ago. Forgiveness is as much about setting myself free as it is setting the other free.

I can pray that N. Church thrives in this area because there is no other community like it. I know there is work to be done there that can't be done in most other churches. I pray it is a center of healing and wholeness. I can have high hopes for N. Church and love the people there while living on the outside. I could hold onto something that was not meant to be or find the grace to accept things as they are.

I struggle the most with the loss of finding that place where I would have served on the staff of a church leading spiritual formation. I have to extend the same forgivess to myself for not being able to have or do whatever it takes to fulfill that dream. It is difficult to forgive yourself because you're looking at yourself through a realistic lense and owning your own barriers that you put up. But it's the only way to move on and live into a different dream that could possibly be fulfilled. Forgiveness is the freedom we need to be fully alive.

At times forgiveness may go against every fiber of our being. We don't have to smooth over what happened or say it was okay. Forgiveness doesn't even mean you have to forget. It just means that at some point you have to let go of the hope that something will happen that will release the pain for you and just pull that trigger yourself. Grace is a choice and all are better when we allow ourselves to hold out hope for everyone and our own hopes and dreams.