Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Beginner's Musings on Forgiveness

Some of you may recall this post that I put up after an altercation with a former friend. It's pretty self-righteous and angry. Being self-righteous and angry were my forms of defense after the affront. But time is a good healer, and eventually you start thinking of other things besides the "horrible" things someone did to you--things which are frankly to be expected by anyone who dares to hold an opinion on anything. After all, Christ said, "Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and say every evil against you falsely for my sake," so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that when I express a pro-life opinion that someone from my infinitely more liberal past doesn't handle it well.

That said, that doesn't mean the occasion doesn't pop up in my mind and sting a little bit. And I don't want to be self-righteous and angry anymore. I know that in the incident I didn't do anything wrong, but I'll keep doing wrong if I continue being angry or proud of myself for what I said. Yet I'm sad when I remember--I'm sorry things had to end that way. I end up in my room, sitting on my bed, facing the "informal" icon corner (the official one's in the living room, and there's a more laid-back one next to our bed), and praying for my former friend. That's really the only thing that can calm the turmoil in my heart--and the pain, and the inadequacy.

I don't think I'll ever forget telling my godmother that I didn't like this person anymore, but I still loved her. And once when I was praying for her about a week after the incident--when the hurt was still strong--my heart expanded and I realized, "This is how God loves." God does not hate unbelievers, nor is He eager to condemn them--He loves all His creation and desires that all be saved. If I continue in self-righteousness and anger, how can I hope for what we pray for in the Lord's Prayer? "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." I was listening to a podcast this morning talking about a teacher who didn't care much for people "below" him. When this teacher came to talk to the author of the podcast and ignored the cook he was with, the author apologized for his colleague's behavior. The cook, who was unusually wise, said that she loved him because Jesus loved him--the author said that this made her the only person at the school who loved him. I thought of this as I was praying for my old friend just today. I don't want to say that I was proud of myself for having such Christ-like love--far from it. I'm the one who constantly struggles with anger and hatred--prayer is all I have to turn to. I'm petty, I'm bitchy, I'm self-righteous, I'm proud, I'm embarrassed by those I should love, I refuse to forgive--the Jesus prayer and a prayer rope are all I have sometimes. "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on Anonymous."

I will have been Orthodox five years this Pascha, and I'm still a horrible Christian. That's why this is a beginner's musings on forgiveness. When I think of all the eloquent writings on forgiveness the Holy Fathers have written, I know I'll always be a beginner. Lord have mercy on me and have mercy on my old, dear friend.

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