Yet this isn't something unique to countries or politics. It's within us. It's a human trait. And if we retaliate and mistrust, we're not going to be able to forgive.
We talk about forgiveness often in church. I mean, really, very often. But it's almost as though we can't help ourselves in blocking efforts to forgive. We automatically abandon or make impossible forgiveness when we place demands on the other person. We ask that they accept responsibility for their actions. I don't want to forgive but feel like I'm required to do so. Only the weak forgive.
People tend to put words in other people's mouths. We assume that they don't really want to move forward. We give them unpleasant personalities characteristics, thinking that they're careless at best, but like just unappreciative or mean. Our own personal accountability is negated because it's entirely the other person's fault. We say, "I'm willing to forgive, but you have to take the first step."
We can't move forward with such thinking. And during Lent, I think and pray hard on how to dispel these innate actions every human being seems to do. To forgive, we have to be stronger than this. This action, this default, genetic way of doing things, is actually the weaker position. It takes enormous strength to overcome our predispositions. For many it seems impossible. It may be, but I think as Christians we're urged and compelled to try.
Now, I'm not saying that forgiveness means the other person has no responsibility. That person may be 99% responsible for every action leading to the transgression. Actions lead to consequences and that cannot be circumvented. But the key to forgiveness is not to let the other person off the hook. It's to let YOU off the hook.
It's all about you after all!
Maybe time to change the words to Carly Simon's song. "You're in pain, you really should think this wrong is about you."
When we fail to forgive, we're hostage to the other person. They have control over us that we cannot escape. They're not even trying and they have you in their hands.
So how do we move forward?
I'll think about this some more... Stay tuned