Lately my basketball-loving son has been watching training videos featuring Stephen Curry, the star of the Golden State Warriors. In these videos, Curry offers tips for sinking the baskets he makes look so effortless. At one point he talks about how as a teenager, he had to do thousands of repetitions before he internalized a new, better form for shooting a basket.
I like that message: Even the greatest have to work hard to do the hard thing.
And forgiveness is about as hard as it gets. I think it’s the most challenging thing we Christians are called to do. It’s the extreme sport of the spiritual life.
It’s fair to say that most of us won’t be able to forgive the really big things right out of the gate. The deep wounds, the moments when we’ve been victimized by others’ sins—it usually takes time to work up to forgiving those.
But forgiveness is something we can choose to make a habit. Just as Curry trained himself into a new shooting form, we can train ourselves to have a more forgiving mindset by practicing on the small things. We can let it go when the driver cuts us off, or when the customer is rude for no reason. We can acknowledge our anger, take a deep breath, and then think: I forgive you and I bless you. A forgiveness muscle; that’s something that repetition can make stronger.
True, it’s never going to be easy to forgive some things. But if we recognize God as the best kind of coach, we’ll be motivated to keep trying. God isn’t the coach belittling us for our mistakes. He’s the One Who knows what we’re capable of, Who recognizes the effort we’re making, and Who encourages us when we don’t get it right. He’s the kind of coach we want to please, because we know He’s got our own best interests at heart.
Seventy-seven times. Thousands of times. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.
Did you see this series on "Sacramental Forgiveness"? It's well-worth the click&scroll.
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is a mother, high school English teacher, and BBC period drama junkie. She is the author of Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood and Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. Ginny lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two boys, and about thirty thousand Legos. You can find out more about her here. She is the author of our Blessed Conversations: The Seven Sacraments found here.