“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The disciples had just asked Jesus to teach them to pray. They must have been thunderstruck when he said those words. Jesus told them to ask the Father to forgive them in the same way that they forgive others who trespass against us.
You might very well say, “But wait, you mean my being forgiven hinges upon whether I have forgiven people who have hurt me?”
Forgiving those who have hurt us is one of the most difficult acts we humans need to learn. Being able to forgive begins to happen as a by-product of an ongoing healing process. That process includes being able to let go of feelings – whatever they are – feelings of hurt, resentment and hatred, to bitterness, anger, and the desire for revenge, to shame and the determination not to be vulnerable anymore.
Forgiveness is difficult. To be able to forgive does involve a stage of healing, in which we are willing and ready to let go of pain and negative emotions of the past, no longer wanting to punish those who hurt us. When we have released that negative energy, we are then free to use the energy for positive change.
William Meninger said, “Forgiveness is not forgetting…It is not a clean-cut, one-time decision…It is not easy…It is not condoning…The hurt was not acceptable and is still wrong. If you make it okay, there is nothing to forgive. You forgive what is not okay.”1
That’s why it’s so difficult. You forgive what is not okay. Nevertheless, forgiveness is what we are to do, if we want to dwell in the delicious spiritual aura of freely-flowing forgiveness – God forgiving us in the same moment as we forgive others and in the same moment as we forgive ourselves and in the same moment when we feel God’s mercy enveloping us. All happening simultaneously.
1 The Process of Forgiveness. William Meninger
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