From Scott. In an airport. Again.
Like Eric, I’m still processing the great experience we had at Wild Goose. Unlike Eric, my bicycle didn’t get stolen. I took a ride across the Missouri River yesterday to see how the flood waters have risen. Have a look on my Facebook page. Omaha, according to Darkwood Brew sax dude Matt Wallace, looks like a port city. Today I’m on a plane again. This time off to Tampa for the General Synod meeting of the United Church of Christ. I’ll be working in the newsroom.
This week we’re thinking about forgiveness. My non-theistic leanings make the idea of any sort of divine forgiveness a bit challenging. I experience forgiveness as a constant state of grace vs. an incident-oriented one at a time kind of thing. I don’t really think much about the concept of forgiveness as it is typically conceived. I especially veer off from the idea that we can, or ought to, forgive and forget. I’m just not sure we’re wired that way.
I believe that our basic humanity is a positive, but conflicted state. I don’t buy doctrine that puts humans in a negative relationship towards the divine or towards each other from the start and then demands that we experience some kind of ultimate forgiveness. I do believe that we are brought forth in grace, which means, to me, that we start from a sort of blessed position. Being human and imperfect, we can easily run off course. I know it happens to me all the time. Some times I know what I’m doing, some times I don’t and very often I make a choice between options. How many times in life do we have to make that hard choice where someone isn’t going to be happy with the results? Trying to commit the lesser of two trespasses.
Our question this week asks when we can give unconditional forgiveness. I’m more interested in restoring a relationship that, rather than wiping out the memory or the imprint of the “wrong,” can integrate and live with a whole view of another person recognizing that they are imperfect and loving them anyway.
Now, let me say that I think this works in situations where there is a basic respect between parties. People who are trying to do the right thing. I don’t see a need to forgive someone who is abusive or purposefully hurtful. I suppose if they are contrite at some point it could be worth exploring, but I think putting the weight of expected forgiveness on a victim is just heaping on more injustice. So I’m fine with the idea that we won’t always forgive. Fortunately in my life I’ve had great relationships…so I haven’t had this added strain. However, for people who have, I can’t imagine how arrogant it is to ask them to forgive and forget.
For me, in my relationships, I focus on recognizing the hurt or offense, reconciling the situation and moving on together.