From our earliest years, our parents would insist, instruct, and inspire us to forgive our siblings and friends after a scuffle over some insignificant toy or argument. They would tell us, “Say you’re sorry to your brother/sister/friend.” I remember my mother insisting that I go tell my husband I was sorry after he made ME mad and called ME a name. My husband hung the moon and adjusted Saturn’s rings, as far as she is concerned. All through my life, my parents drove this forgiveness thing into our cores. But did it stick … for me?
If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14-15)
It is a true act of contrition to get in your car and purposefully drive to the church and stand in line and wait for your turn to confess your sins verbally, but do we truly in the heart of hearts allow ourselves to be forgiven? If we are forgiven by God, why is it so hard to do the forgiving toward our own self? I see this in friends and in my own children.
As a Catholic, I can go to Confession and physically, personally, and verbally ask and hear the words of Jesus, through the priest, of forgiveness and that is a relief.
Once, in Confession with a truly rough priest, who had a point actually, I was not given absolution. I know, crazy, but it would happen to me, (sigh) for some strange reason. I was talking about some problem I had with a person and he said, “If you don’t forgive that person why should you be forgiven? Doesn’t the prayer our Lord taught us say, ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’?” That part of the prayer always bugs me … for good reason.
That was a hard lesson to learn and yes, maybe I could word my confessional language a bit differently in order to be forgiven, but in my heart of hearts, I know what I need to do.
For the same cast of characters of trespasses week after week, month after month, year after year, it seems like I haven’t learned much. I don’t feel like I am making any headway in my desire to follow the narrow path toward salvation. But I keep trying every day.
Perhaps it is that I have a hard time forgiving myself for not measuring up each week after week, month after month, year after year.
Each time I go to Confession I try to be creative, but it seems that I still yell at the drivers that don’t drive as well as I do, or the pedestrian walking on the wrong side of the road, and judge the pew sitters that chew gum every Sunday in their jeans and t-shirts, and so on. Maybe I am the problem after all.
God knows our hearts; he sees right through us to our very core and loves and forgives us anyway. We need to believe that and live accordingly … and forgive our very selves and show some mercy as our Almighty Father does.
Copyright 2019 Ebeth Weidner