Years ago I attended a conference workshop led by the author of Forgive For Good. Dr. Fred Luskin had what I considered a reasonable approach to forgiveness. But I have been reading Home by Marilynne Robinson. In the context of her novel, I came across some powerful words about forgiveness that seem worth passing on.
The narrator in Home is Glory, the daughter of her retired pastor father and the sister to Jack, the n’ere do well sibling who unexpectedly returns home after a 20-year absence. Father and son have struggled with their relationship. Glory, as she observes them now, recalls her pastor father’s words over the years about forgiveness:
“You must forgive in order to understand. Until you forgive, you defend yourself against the possibility of understanding…If you forgive, he would say, you may indeed still not understand, but you will be ready to understand and that is the posture of grace.”
In sorting through accumulated cards and letters saved over the years I came across a card filled with kudos to Terry and me for being so kind and helpful to her during a difficult year. She said she did not know how she would have gotten through without us. Was this from a former client? Nope. It was from the business “manager” who ultimately defrauded us, resulting in the loss of our longtime business. Given how slow we were to catch on, she may have been defrauding us even then. She had been with us from the beginning and we trusted her implicitly.
To refuse to forgive would seem to tie up a lot of energy. Sometimes there is the implicit expectation that holding on to one’s anger punishes the offender. She had already taken so much from us. I did not want to allow her to sap my energy with anger or to take up any space in my life at all. I remember I prayed for her everyday for a year because that act seemed to keep me in a better space. I forgave her for my own peace of mind.
I appreciate those bits of wisdom that come across our path in serendipitous fashion—the line in a poem….song….novel…a bit of conversation. And I ponder the words of the fictious pastor: “….you may indeed still not understand. But you will be ready to understand and that is the posture of grace.”
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate
Hope’s Café Bonus: “Today I decided to forgive you. Not because you apologized, or because you acknowledged the pain that you caused me, but because my soul deserves peace.”—Najwa Zebian