When I say the Lord’s Prayer, even in silence, FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES is always in all caps; it always gets emphasized in my mind. I’m very aware of my need for forgiveness. It’s the next phrase that too-often gets short-shifted. Lately, I’ve been trying to pay equal attention to the as we forgive those who trespass against us part.
People pass through our lives and touch us in ways of which they are completely unaware. A kind word or rude comment usually has consequences that we never ever see. How we treat others affects how they treat the others they come in contact with after they’ve encountered us. It can cause a relationship domino effect that lives on long after we’ve moved on.
Everyone has friends with whom they’ve lost touch. It just happens over time. People become very important in situations that are temporary and the friendship falters when the circumstances change.That is all very normal. Other times, relationships end when others hurt us in ways that seem unforgivable, and we hold on to the hurt thinking we’re punishing them or protecting ourselves.
That happened to me several years ago, only I was the one who caused the hurt, and I was the one who was refused forgiveness. It doesn’t matter to the person whom I brought to pain that I intended to help her and she misunderstood my intention. Her pain was no less real. My guilt was no less genuine. We both suffered for too long. I’d like to say that she eventually forgave me and we had healing, but she didn’t, and I had to forgive myself.
Recently I watched another friend go through a similar situation with a different misunderstanding, but an identical level of pain felt by the members of the breached relationship. I saw how the lack of healing was harming everyone involved, and it made me both sad and angry. What a waste of time and emotion! So after I listened, I asked my friend to try to forgive herself and to try to forgive her friend for her immutability.
I hope she took my advice, because her former friend passed away this weekend, and now it’s too late for her to say the words that needed saying and that my friend needed hearing. So besides being stunned and shocked and saddened, I’m angry. I’m angry at a life ended too soon. I’m angry at the waste of an opportunity for healing. And I’m angry at myself for the times when I’ve hurt others, and for the times I haven’t overlooked others hurting me.
Forgive me for that. Please!