Forgiveness, by Nate

  • October 8, 2014

Hi Everybody, 

To paraphrase and steal from Jeff Foxworthy, if you have a story that includes forgiveness and church, you just might have a story of wonder 🙂 

This is a continuing story of wonder about my journey thru negativity.  I hope you remember what I shared before, because this one is all new material. 

I must confess that I have been hurt by people at church.  Perhaps more than by my family.  Shame, judgement, condemnation, rejection and such– all by people who felt they were doing God’s will.  WOW this is negative.  I am just going to assume that some of you have been hurt by people at church and avoid asking for a show of hands. 

What does one do with this pain?????  Well the obvious answer is to forgive, right?  And how does forgiveness work?  I have not found any steps to forgiveness (OK there are lots on the Internet and I hope they all work)  

To me, I need to start moving towards towards forgiveness by fully feeling the hurt.  I do not mean to enter the pit of despair, but rather to face the pain instead of trivializing it – crying tears is hard and they help with this.  Here is where negativity (and likely evil) start to show up – my negativity – CANT, CART, RANT (ask me later about these) are defenses and they stifle feelings and short circuit this step.  My mind is too busy protecting me to allow me to be vulnerable and feel the pain.  So I have found I need to be vulnerable to forgive. 

Then I need to move towards empathy – to see the situation through the eyes of the other person.  And my negativity can shut this down faster than asteroid sling-shotting around a star. I have a great story about empathy and if anyone wants to hear it they can ask me later.  But empathy is hard,  it forces me to let go of my hurt and pain regardless of how righteous and indignant I am, because understanding someone else’s perspective seems to soften the transgression – which I do not want to do.  Realizing they did not mean to hurt me is hard and that the odds they hurt me on purpose are low.  So I need to understand and empathize with the people who hurt me. 

Then I need to try to let go of me desire for justice (OK here in the US when we say justice we mean vengeance – Clint Eastwood taught me that),  And here again my negativity enters in and my righteousness explodes into a RANT about how people in the church are Christians and so they SHOULD (there is that big word) know better and on and on.  To let go of the desire for justice and stop the negativity I find that I need to realize that I too have hurt others.  I know this may be hard to believe but I tell you it is true.  And I want to be forgiven, and the only path there is to realize that I am forgiven through Jesus and that empowers me to forgive others.  So I need to release my desire for satisfaction and vengeance along with being vulnerable and empathetic, to let go.  I recently realized that everytime I have forgiven someone for something … they have gotten away with it. 

OK – forgiveness is a process and we all need to revisit our steps to forgiveness.  And I want to publicly admit that I have harbored unforgiveness in my hurt towards the capital “C” Church.  I do not feel the hurts fully, am unwilling/unable to see things from others’ view and oh how I want justice.  Really I need forgiveness. 

So in repentance,  in harmony with Philipians 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” I am trying to focus on the good points of the Church (once again the capital ‘C’ Church).  And I want to list several of them: 

I have met some of my best friends at Church

I have experienced healing from some deep emotional wounds at Church

Church has deepened and enriched my understanding of Jesus’ gospel

Through Church related activities I have become a better person

Without Church, communion (the administering of the elements) would be rare in my life

Church services regularly remind me that Jesus died for the forgiveness of my sins

More of my tears have been shed at a Church than anywhere else (movies run a close second on this)

Church is a place where I have experienced spiritual growth.

Church provides a place for belonging, connection and love. 

Thanks for sharing in this journey with me.