I can’t read today’s Gospel about forgiveness without thinking about my dad. Growing up with a Baptist minister for a father, I sat through more homilies than I can count, and themes of forgiveness ran rampant through nearly every one. Forgiveness is the heart of the Good News, of course: we rejoice in the knowledge that our sins are not enough to separate us from the mercy of God. We’ve been reconciled to Him because of His great love, not our own merit.
But what my dad seemed to understand better than most was that forgiveness is not only necessary between God and man, it is very much necessary between people as well.
As I got older, I began to appreciate just how hard my father had worked to extend forgiveness. My grandpa had suffered from alcoholism and, as a result, dad’s childhood had been mangled with the effects of the vicious disease. If you or someone you love battles addiction, you know how painful a road that is to walk. There are wounds that run so deep they seem impossible to overcome.
What my father, led by the Holy Spirit, grew to accept was that forgiving someone for falling short doesn’t mean the wounds didn’t happen, nor that they’re not still present in some ways. My dad made the decision to forgive the flaws of his father because he believed it would set them both free from the shackles of shame and resentment.
The choice to forgive is hard work—and often ongoing work—but God knows it is the only way we can move forward out of pain toward healing.
Dad used to tell me that people are afraid that extending forgiveness insinuates they weren’t wronged, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Forgiveness actually affirms that you were wronged, but that you have the courage to not let the wrongdoing keep you from wholeness in God. The one who sinned against you did damage—sometimes terrible damage—but they do not have the power to continue holding you down.The one who sinned against you did damage—sometimes terrible damage—but they do not have the power to continue holding you down. Click To Tweet
Your soul was made to rise to God, and forgiveness is waiting to take you there. What steps can you take toward this today?
Shannon Evans is a Protestant missionary turned Catholic convert who lived to tell the tale. She is a writer, podcaster, and speaker, but potty training four boys will be the achievement on her epitaph. Shannon and her family make their home in central Iowa, where they seek to live out the social teachings of the Church in their small and ordinary days. You can find out more about her here. She is the author of our 2018 Advent Study, forthcoming and Blessed Conversations: The Our Father study found here.