A FEW weeks ago in Word for the Week, Lorraine Hawkins gave us some advice on forgiveness, which I find quite hard to accept and rather annoying.
She gave us examples of (so called) forgiveness in difficult situations by seemingly saintly people; but I wonder if it isn’t just a form of denial or fooling oneself.
If it really is genuine, there where does that leave the rest of us who aren’t so saintly? Forgiveness of my abuser has been a big issue for me for 18 years now and it isn’t any help listening to the muddled messages There is more to forgiveness preached about it. I don’t recognise Lorraine’s selfish version in which I forgive just to help myself and not to help my abuser; surely God doesn’t forgive us just for his benefit; it is a gift given at great cost to him and the benefits are mutual, leading to the ultimate goal, reconcilliation.
I have tried the one-sided forgiveness which so many in the Church speak of and it was one of the biggest challenges I have faced.
After years of agonising over it I committed myself to an afternoon in Derby Cathedral, reflecting, crying, rehearsing and praying, praying, praying ; and with the utmost sincerity forgiving my abuser over and over again for all the pain and illness she has caused me over the last 18 years.
I went home to bed relieved and expecting a new beginning, feeling spiritually reconciled; but I woke up the next morning feeling nothing at all.
There was no ‘new life’ and no spiritual comfort, just the same dark feelings I was fully used to; it hadn’t worked and as I feared something (or rather someone) was missing.
Lorraine reminds us that God expects a confession of our sin before he can forgive us; so am I called to be holier than God? Lorraine speaks of truth and reconciliation, but a one-sided forgiveness won’t achieve that.
Abusers who won’t face up to the inconvenient truth about themselves stand in the way of God’s will and his Kingdom; they are not fit for the Lord’s Prayer or Holy Communion.
I pray all the time for mutual confession, mutual forgiveness and true Christian reconcilliation with my abuser; to experience a little piece of God’s Kingdom in my life.
I want to wake up as a Christian brother to her and she my sister in Christ; I don’t think God would expect anything less.