Tag Archives: forgiveness

Forgiveness and the Heart of God

Jonah did not like that the people of Nineveh saw the “error of their ways.”  He was more attached to his role of self-righteous victim and ranting “prophet” than to the radical Divine option that those oppressing Powers That Be might actually experience grace and a second chance.

I’d like to reread, soon, Miguel de la Torre’s book Liberating Jonah: Toward a Biblical Ethics of Reconciliation.  I’ve always loved the story of Jonah, and began serious discipling study of it in 2005.  Miguel’s book offers some wonderful challenges about what it means to forgive injustice and to truly envision reconciliation. And there’s no sugar coating it.

That’s really important: no sugar coating.  As we embark together in coaching and classes this year as part of Living Well Ministries’ Forgive for Life programs, we will support one another in a forgiveness journey which holds truth of pain and radical compassion together.  No sugar coating.  No self-righteousness, either.

I hope that I can support, in these settings and others, the sustainable prophetic work of those called to transform  injustice in our world.  So very often I encounter those engaged in justice work I truly value and share in interactions which reveal such animosity, resentment, and demonizing toward “the Other” who they would blame for society’s ills.  No doubt, many structural injustices and systemic prejudices — such as racism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism and sexism — permeate our current reality and hold many in bondage through invisible systems of privilege and unequal power and opportunity.   In Buddhist terms, our attachments to blame and our aversions poison us all. The liberating and creating work of justice-making cannot thrive while we are stuck in that abyss.

As a Christian coach, I hold the vision of shalom for us all.  Peace, completeness and well-being might be modern aspects of this Hebrew concept.  In my personal life, public ministry and coaching/teaching work, I hold space for people to articulate the pain and damage they feel and see WHILE LETTING GO of Jonah’s temptation to make the human vessels of harm out to be evil incarnate.   I have slowly shed a view (now, to shed in daily experience!)  of God as one whose wrath would come down to punish my/our enemies.  Or, that I have the power and right to  dehumanize those whose beliefs and actions cause harm.

We have the opportunity to cultivate a Divine heart that, unlike Jonah’s, truly desires the well-being of all victims and all violators.   (That’s the approach to forgiveness I take, inspired by Marjorie Suchocki’s work).  Anticipating Lent is a good time to recall that a forgiveness that demands a punitive judgment is not Christ’s gospel.  Forgiveness looks like acceptance, bold truth-telling, and a welcome Home.

“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”   Romans 5:8

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Forgiveness… A Practice of Discernment

Forgiveness is a process. 

A path of intention and of practice. 

One element is discernment, the kind of discernment we do when we decide if, when and how we spend time with others when  relationships are tender and compromised.

As we live into another multi-holiday season, we will often be making choices about how to be together (or not)”celebrating” in times of fracture and pain.   As I support my clients in this season, I am reminded that the best framework for defining forgiveness INCLUDES — at the heart of its definition — the ongoing work of discernment.   It does not serve us well, I think, to define forgiveness as some kind of stand-alone transaction, that happens or occurs with a finality that then makes discernment about next steps possible.

Instead, practicing discernment about how and with whom we spend our time in this season can be viewed instead as part of forgiveness practice.*

Making choices

to spend time or not

to validate solitude or not

to draw certain boundaries or not

to set intentions or not

It’s all about practice–

holding truth and love,

honor of self and others,

past and present unfolding,

now and not yet.

A forgiveness practice could be just the right holiday practice…

 

* In my coaching and teaching, I prioritize Marjorie Suchocki’s definition of forgiveness, paraphrased here: “Taking into account the full extent of the harm done AND choosing to will the wellbeing of all the victims and all of the violators.”

 

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Behold the Sun at Midnight

WINTER SOLSTICE

Behold the Sun

at midnight.

Build with stones

On lifeless ground.

Find in decline,

In death’s night,

Creation’s new beginning,

Morning’s youthful night.

The heights reveal

The gods’ eternal word.

The depths guard

 The peaceful treasure.

Living in darkness,

Create a Sun.

Weaving in matter,

Know Spirit’s delight.

— Rudolf Steiner

A tattered poem on Winter Solstice tumbles out of my wallet this morning. It is a few weeks away, but I am in the mood nevertheless. 

This Word has spoken to me often from its secure little nest, on the days I pull it out for mantra and on the days it just travels alongside of me.  I have carried it for seven years, this Word. On days and nights that seemed long, that seemed without light or path for others, it steadied me with an ancient, creation imperative. The Sun was present and I knew it. It brought delight and rebirth.

I wonder now if I am done with it.

The wondering passes. I am not.  I need this Word. People and places I love need this Word. 

This brings the resolve of Rest. It is not a resolve of tirelessly plodding on, like a sturdy oak, mindless of fatigue or surroundings. It’s Presence Possible only in the bearings of that Sun. It’s a body-mind-spirit delight found when I sense the right place, the right time, the right work.

 It’s faith.

I am grateful,

and not alone.

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All Blame is a Waste of Time

All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy. – Dr. Wayne Dyer

I really, really appreciate this quote.  What if we thought of  the occurence of blame as starting point, a lens through which to look INSIDE at the thoughts and feelings of helplessness or struggle that are underneath our feelings of pain (sadness, humiliation, anger etc).  This opens up the doorway to a true path of healing:  honesty about our expectations, needs, replaying of past scripts etc. 

This doesn’t mean we don’t speak truth or draw boundaries or leave painful situations. It just means that we embrace as our most worthy task  the transformation of our own hearts and minds.  That is the only source of true peace.  Like Paul says in Philippians 4, there is a purposeful and prayerful peace that passes understanding and that GUARDS OUR HEARTS AND MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS.

I wish you well on this peace-making journey.  Whether we cross paths in coaching or in forgiveness or other spirituality classes, I look forward to supporting your work.

 

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Every attack is a call for love

This insight from The Course in Miracles rocks my world. Opens me up.  It pierces the soul with a truth undeniable.  Like Christian scripture says that Word always does.

What does this mean for me?

One thing it surely means is that  sometimes I misperceive and misname an event as an attack, when it is simply an assertion. A grasp. A flail. A moan. A misplaced bitterness.   A longing for voice and power.

A call for love. 

That is, a call for a sense of place and regard and connection.

Of course, there are also times of explicit attack: judgments, name-calling, discrimination, or accusations born of  rigid expectations.

A call for love?

Looking at another (or myself!) with this in mind, breaks open the compassion in me.  Like champaign bubbling  forth.  I can’t help it.  The ego/carnal mind resists it. Resents it. Wants to argue and qualify and condition it. 

“Yes, but–!” 

“Be careful – ”

“Wait a minute –”

A teacher in junior high walked into the psychology classroom and wrote in big chalky letters:  ALL BEHAVIOR HAS A REASON.  That has long been a sort of compassion compass for me.   It really got inside me.  It’s related to this CIM quote.  Could it really be about miracles?

I think so.  As I walk the forgiveness journey, and teach and coach about it, I have become convinced. Not done, but surely convinced.  Miracles happen when I bathe “attacks” in this mantra.

Accepting that “every attack is a call for love” does not equate to being a doormat. Or failing to draw the boundaries I need to draw to be safe — emotionally, spiritually, physically —  or focused on the right laboratory of learning.  Sometimes we need to excuse ourselves from the classroom at hand and go find another.  But I can do so with an increasingly Divine knowing of another’s – or my own — deep need and suffering beneath the aggressive word or deed.  When I choose to see the suffering, the fear and anger and their perversions, I see as God sees.  Whatever the choice for health is, I can do so enabled with this Divine knowing. Or, not. And if I do not act in this knowing I may be technically safe or relieved, but still suffer a lot.

 In Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, Richard Rohr writes about the spiritual journey in terms of learning to draw boundaries without anger.   To live in an increasing understanding of what lies beneath ego’s (what I think Paul might name “carnal”)  attacks frees me a bit from the bonds of retaliation.  And it is freeing me, like a refiner’s fire, from the self-righteousness of my own attacks and defenses.  With Divine knowing about my suffering and needs, I can open to the Healer’s embrace awaiting us all.

Another name for this journey is “forgive for Life.”  Many of my clients and students are walking this courageous journey, and it is an honor to walk with them.    I support them as they cultivate the Divine compassion needed to honor their pain and at the same time to accept the suffering and lack which have caused them or others to do harm.  When we truly surrender in vulnerability to the truth that everything is a call for love, then we can truly act wisely and decisively for the healing which beckons us. 

Every attack is a call for love.

What might this mean for you?

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Forgive for Life… Allow Now’s Knowing

for Future’s Sake!

“I have learned to understand regrets as invitations, as messengers.  Rather than being thugs from the past, come to beat me up for decisions I cannot possibly retrieve, they come instead with a word to offer.  The word often speaks of something missing in my life, some connection I need to make. With time and with giving attention to the regrets, they have become not so much about loss as about what is yet possible.  What path can I still make from the choices gone before?

Jan Richardson, In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection and Prayer.

Forgive for Life…

What does that mean?

Holding Truth(of pain) and Love (connection) together.

Drawing boundaries, increasingly enabled to do so with ease and without anger.

Nurturing a living well of grace in my life… a Holy witness to Divine inheritance.

(This may be a poem)

a well whose streams empower 

       cleansing out

      standing up

      moving on.  

 a well whose streams ennoble

       a child, growing

       a human, trying

      a story, living.

a well, a living well.

For Giving Life.

****

I walk in good company of those who want to Forgive for Life.  It would be my honor to support you on this sacred journey of living well.

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