Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It’s a permanent attitude. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
On my morning drive back from taking my daughter to school, I saw this MLK post on Facebook ( I was waiting at the light, I promise) and then almost immediately afterward heard on the radio a song on forgiveness. I definitely thought this must be my admonition for the day. And as I often do on my morning drive back from drop off my thoughts went to my mother. In the last 3 years of my mother’s life, it was my ritual to call her almost everyday or every other day when I finished dropping the kids off to school. It was my time of uninterrupted conversation with her, before I transitioned to work or other errands. Most often, the conversations were mundane.
My thoughts went to her because forgiveness was her way of life. It was not what she said, but what she did that spoke loudly to everyone. Somehow, she intrinsically internalized the truth that forgiveness is empowering and liberating, because she was not shackled by past hurts, defined by other’s people’s frailties and insecurities. She frequently gave up her right to penalize others for their thoughtlessness, neglect, lack of social skills, and just plain cruelty. By releasing others, she kept her self free to move forward.
She was not perfect. She would complain briefly, but move on. She might answer in anger, but would not stay there. Most of the times she completely overlooked the intended offence, not as “beneath” her, but because she had more important things to do. When she was really ready to transition in her final weeks on this earth, she was relentless in reaching out to others who she felt harbored guilt for some offense against her. She had forgiven them long ago, but in her heart she wanted THEM to be free from guilt or shame. She didn’t just want the liberating power of forgiveness for herself – she wanted to share it with everyone.
In our dealings with others, life should not be lived like baseball: three strikes and you’re out — or like Peter in Matthew 18: 21 looking for a set number of times, seven, to extend grace to those who offend us. Interestingly, the number 7 can mean divine perfection and completion in biblical times which is probably why Peter tried to manipulate Jesus using this number. But Jesus responded (in verse 22) in multiplications of the number 7 by 70 which means perfect order, and the multiplication meant amplification of forgiveness – a way of life. It was the essence of divine grace, an integral part of God’s character, and one of the last things that He did before He died. Forgiveness frees and positions you to both receive and dispense grace. The root of bitterness cannot survive in the rivers of grace.
This word of forgiveness is personally liberating, because it became the inspiration of my inaugural blog post, breaking through years of intention. So I’m walking this road of forgiveness one day at a time. Won’t you join me?!