[and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us] (Mt. 6:12)
In the course of a conversation about the “Our Father”, my interlocutor said that when she prayed the “Our Father” she would always skip the phrase about forgiveness. Her rationale was that she did not want God to forgive her trespasses as she forgave those who trespassed against her because she never forgave others. So for her to pray this phrase of the “Our Father” essentially meant that God would not forgive her.
She rightly observed that forgiveness is really difficult especially when we’ve been severely hurt by another—maybe someone unfairly judged us, a member of our family, a friend of ours, etc. Unfortunately though my interlocutor failed to realize that true forgiveness is only made possible by God’s grace. Forgiveness is a choice on our part, but it is also simultaneously begun, sustained, and completed by God’s grace.
Who haven’t you forgiven? Are you harboring a grudge against someone? Be patient with yourself because forgiveness does not happen immediately, but is a process that takes time. Forgiveness releases us from the anger that eats us up inside. Forgiveness is not a feeling, but a choice to treat with charity those who have hurt us.
When we forgive:
1.) We must acknowledge that we’ve been hurt. Do not ignore it. The hurt is real.
2.) Pray for the grace to forgive. Maybe we even need to pray for the desire for the desire to forgive.
3.) Forgive. Remember it’s a choice and NOT a feeling.
As Christians we must forgive and also remember that God helps us to do so. His grace and our choice to forgive give us confidence to pray the entire “Our Father”, even the phrase about forgiveness.
Who do you need to forgive? Take some time today and begin the process of forgiveness.