Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: On Forgiving

 

Such is the course of my life at the moment that the subject of forgiveness has been running like a river through it. On that particular subject, you might say I’ve hit the jackpot. The big one. The forgiveness challenge to end all forgiveness challenges. A lollapalooza, in fact. Can I do it? I don’t know. But I’m thinking about working my way up to an endeavor in which I make the attempt to try. Maybe.

To help me sort things out, I turned to a writer I have loved since childhood. One I knew would have something to say, and whose clear and lucid prose always surprises me, if not always with joy, at least with illumination and understanding: My friend, Clive Staples (Jack) Lewis.

I know of two essays he wrote on the subject of forgiveness. Let’s start with the first one (always a good organizing principle). His first essay on forgiveness, oddly enough titled “Essay on Forgiveness,” was written at the request of the Rector of St. Mary Church in Sawston, Cambridgeshire, and was published in the parish magazine in 1947. It lay, unremarked, among the papers of Father Patrick Irwin until his death in 1965, whereupon it was discovered, certified as genuine, and sent off to the Bodleian library for safekeeping.

It’s a short essay, with what seems to be a threefold purpose: First, it reminds us of the importance of forgiveness in the Christian tradition, and that we are commanded to forgive the sins, or trespasses, or debts, of others in our most recited prayer. Second, it tells us that the forgiveness we give is not optional:

He doesn’t say that we are to forgive other people’s sins, provided they are not too frightful, or provided there are extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort. We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated. If we don’t we shall be forgiven none of our own.

Third, Lewis uses this little essay to make a very important point in that he distinguishes the act of forgiving from the act of “excusing.” He says that when we ask God to forgive us, we are very often asking Him to excuse us. To excuse us because what we did really wasn’t our fault. There were extenuating circumstances. We had reasons. For part of it, at least.

What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some “extenuating circumstances.” We are so very anxious to point these things out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the very important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which excuses don’t cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable. And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves with our own excuses.

Real forgiveness, the kind that comes from God

means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it.

Lewis believes that the same sifting out of the “excusing” needs to be done when one is talking about forgiveness between men.

One must therefore begin by attending to everything which may show that the other man was not so much to blame as we thought. But even if he is absolutely fully to blame we still have to forgive him; and even if ninety-nine per cent of his apparent guilt can be explained away by really good excuses, the problem of forgiveness begins with the one per cent of guilt that is left over. To excuse, what can really produce good excuses is not Christian charity; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

Refusing forgiveness on these terms, refusing to forgive without exception when forgiveness is needed, is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. “There is no hint of exceptions, and God means what he says.”

“This is hard,” says Jack Lewis, at the end of his Essay on Forgiveness. True dat. And he has given me much food for thought. But I’m still hungry. My forgiveness challenge involves those who committed an act so heinous they will, if found guilty in the eyes of the law, face the harshest criminal punishment. Should I not wish that on them? Should I set aside my (fervent) wish that those who did this despicable thing should pay for their crime? I don’t see an answer here, and I’m still struggling. Yes, this is hard.

Lewis’s second essay on forgiveness, written shortly after the first, appears in Mere Christianity, and presents his more detailed view of Christian forgiveness while retaining the ideas outlined in his previous musing. Let’s take a look:

“Everyone says that forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive, as we had during the war.” Well, yes. Nazis. Atrocities. Holocaust. Forgive? How? Lewis suggests a twofold approach:

 . . . if we really want (but all depends on really wanting) to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better start with something easier than the Gestapo. One might start with forgiving one’s husband or wife, or parents or children, or the nearest N.C.O. for something they have said or done in the last week.

That sounds like a plan! Something I can do. Here we go:

So, you! Jackass who pulled into the parking space from the “wrong” end and stole it from under my nose at the Giant Eagle the other day. Maybe you were just having a bad day. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care why you did it. I forgive you.

And yo! Suddenly deaf friend who, for reasons I can’t fathom, seems to have lost my phone number and my email address and who doesn’t appear to understand or care that I’d really like to hear from him sometime. Maybe you’re dealing with issues I know not of; maybe you’re happy (hope so), maybe you’re not. I can’t tell. I miss you. I forgive you.

Hey, yoohoo! Unspeakably obdurate billing clerk at the hospital who simply won’t accept that I don’t owe you $10, because I paid you two months ago and you applied the payment to Mr. She’s account by mistake so he has a credit balance, and it looks like I’m delinquent. I bet you hate your job and feel as if you’re in thrall to the computer. But now I’ve retired from the IT department at your place of business, you’re on your own. I forgive you, though.

Gosh, this is great! In fact, it’s quite fun! My heart feels lighter and my soul feels refreshed already. Now, onto the big kahuna.

Ummmm. Not there yet. I hate them. I want those who are guilty to fry in hell. So, now what?

Lewis, bless him, has an answer. And it has to do with loving my neighbor as myself.

Do I love myself? Well, yes, most of the time I do.  Do I like everything I do? No. When I do something I don’t like, does it make me hate myself? No. I don’t like what I did, but I still love myself. Hating the sin but loving the sinner is something I do reflexively on my own account, if I’m a mentally healthy person. And, generally, I am. I think. Lewis says that “I am allowed to loathe and hate some of the things my enemies do.” But I am still commanded to love and forgive them their actions, in the same way that I love and forgive myself.

Does loving your enemy mean not punishing him? No, for loving myself does not mean that I ought not to subject myself to punishment–even to death. If you had committed a murder, the right Christian thing to do would be to give yourself up to the police and be hanged. It is, therefore, in my opinion, perfectly right for a Christian judge to sentence a man to death or a Christian soldier to kill an enemy. I have always thought so, every since I became a Christian, and long before the war, and I still think so now that we are at peace. It is no good quoting ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ There are two Greek words: the ordinary word to kill and the word to murder. And when Christ quotes that commandment He uses the murder one in all three accounts, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And I am told there is the same distinction in Hebrew. All killing is not murder . . .

Ah. There it is. Punishment. It’s ok to want them to be punished and for them to be punished. So far, so good. But where does Lewis go next?

I imagine somebody will say, ‘Well, if one is allowed to condemn the enemy’s acts, and punish him, and kill him, what difference is left between Christian morality and the ordinary view?’ All the difference in the world. Remember, we Christians think man lives forever. Therefore, what really matters is those little marks or twists on the central, inside part of the soul which are going to turn it, in the long run, into a heavenly or a hellish creature. We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating. We may punish if necessary, but we must not enjoy it. In other words, something inside us, the feeling of resentment, the feeling that wants to get one’s own back, must be simply killed . . . I mean that every time it bobs its head up, day after day, year after year, all our lives long, we must hit it on the head . . . Even while we kill and punish, we must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves–to wish that he were not bad, to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured: in fact, to wish his good. That is what is meant in the Bible by loving him: wishing his good, not feeling fond of him nor saying he is nice when he is not.

OK, Jack. Sounds good. I’ll try. Starting right after I see them fry in Hell and I dance on their graves.

Oh. Wait. That’s not right. Clearly, not there yet. That’s why I titled this post “On Forgiving” and not “On Having Forgiven.” It’s a process. I’ll get there. I hope. Because I need to. Because I must. Not for them, but for me. In the meantime, I’ll pray that those around me are generous and loving enough to return the grace of forgiveness to me, whenever I need it, which I often do.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pieces of music, lyrics by Horatio Spafford (1828-1888). He endured an unspeakably awful decade in the 1870s in which he saw the death of his oldest son at the age of two, financial ruin in the Great Fire of Chicago, all four of his daughters drowning at sea while traveling to Europe for a family holiday, and the death of another son of scarlet fever at the age of four, after which he and what was left of his family moved to Jerusalem and founded a religious colony. I figure if, having endured all that, he could rouse himself to write this gorgeous hymn of affirmation, then I can at least try to do my bit as best I can:

Peace. Forgiveness. Love. And thanks.

There are 30 comments.

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  1. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    Brava! Hugs! Oh, and “Thanks, Jack!”

    • #1
    • August 25, 2018, at 7:42 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. JoelB Member

    I have been re-reading Mere Christianity and am trying to digest all the wisdom it contains. I just recently read the chapter you quote. Lewis has nailed me right between the eyes on a few issues of my own. Putting on Christ is quite a process and we can’t do it right without His help. I pray that you are able to work through this and soon. Best regards.

    • #2
    • August 25, 2018, at 8:54 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. MarciN Member

    I have faced similar forgiveness issues. Over time, the equation changed such that the problem was eventually completely and utterly drowned out by the goodness of others. 

    What I’ve come to understand is what Viktor Frankl was trying to explain at the end of Man’s Search for Meaning. When we finally get out, if we don’t change our focus to see the goodness around us in our friends and neighbors, we will simply be taking the hell with us. 

    • #3
    • August 25, 2018, at 8:57 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. MarciN Member

    By the way, the pain has not gone away for me at all. I would like to write about my mom and the system, but I can’t. The emotions well up so strongly that I can’t write coherently.

    I wish I could give some hope in that department.

    The only thing that has changed is that I don’t focus on it at all. It’s like having a floater in your eye. I look past it and don’t see it anymore unless I make myself see it.

    • #4
    • August 25, 2018, at 9:03 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I have faced similar forgiveness issues. Over time, the equation changed such that the problem was eventually completely and utterly drowned out by the goodness of others.

    What I’ve come to understand is what Viktor Frankl was trying to explain at the end of Man’s Search for Meaning. When we finally get out, if we don’t change our focus to see the goodness around us in our friends and neighbors, we will simply be taking the hell with us.

    Yes. Another of my all-time favorite Lewis quotes, “the gates of Hell are locked from the inside.” Thanks, @marcin

     

    • #5
    • August 25, 2018, at 9:04 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. PHCheese Member

    How do you deal with reoccurring insults?

    • #6
    • August 25, 2018, at 9:40 AM PDT
    • Like
  7. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    By the way, the pain has not gone away for me at all. I would like to write about my mom and the system, but I can’t. The emotions well up so strongly that I can’t write coherently. And then the tears fall.

    I wish I could give some hope in that department.

    The only thing that has changed is that I don’t focus on it at all. It’s like having a floater in your eye. I look past it and don’t see it anymore unless I make myself see it.

    I think I understand. That’s pretty much how it is for me about the last 30 years of my stepson’s life. In my case it’s a mixture of incandescent rage that nothing really helpful was done; that we (family) were sidelined and viewed with nothing but suspicion by most of the agencies tasked with “helping” him; and shame that, as articulate, and organized and effective as I usually am at getting things done (and trust me, I am), and no matter how much I did (and trust me, it was a lot) I ended up unable to help him and now he is dead. And not dead in the sense of the Greek word meaning “killed.” Dead in the sense of the Greek word meaning “murdered.”

    Who could not have predicted that outcome? Certainly not me. I’d been the canary in Sam’s coal mine for years. Decades. One instance where I get absolutely no satisfaction, and much heartache, from being right. So I can’t say much more about that, otherwise I’m rendered into the state you describe.

    It’s my hope that if when I get through to the other side of this, I may be able to write something productive or helpful to others about my experience, or find some other way to advocate for the families of the mentally ill. In the meantime, I tread water and try to live with myself.

    God Bless, Marci. May you find your way through to the other side one day. Hope to see you there.

    • #7
    • August 25, 2018, at 9:48 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    How do you deal with reoccurring insults?

    That’s hard. And something that Lewis covers in both of his essays on forgiveness. His point of view is simply that we must forgive each one, although he’s very clear that that sort of forgiveness, for multiple petty instances, may be even harder to offer than forgiveness for one super duper insult or transgression. But, in his view, that’s the Christian thing to do.

    For my own part, I forgive, but I don’t forget. That’s always struck me as rather daft–if the desired outcome of sinning/confessing/forgiving is to “sin no more,” how am I supposed to know if that was successful, once I’ve “forgotten” the previous occurrence. So I daresay I have a bit of a “once-bitten, twice shy” approach to the problem which may mitigate the chances of my being subjected to multiple offenses. That’s hard, though, when you’re talking about family, or others that you can’t just slough off at will. My advice would just be to be the kindest and best that you can be, and to try to be satisfied with that.

    • #8
    • August 25, 2018, at 10:06 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    Peter asked about this, too: L-rd, how often should I forgive?. The reply, variously-translated, amounts to: As often as someone asks/Unlimitedly. (I don’t recall anything about *us* forgetting, though…That’s G-d’s prerogative, thanks be.)

    • #9
    • August 25, 2018, at 10:23 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I don’t want to be an angry woman, with a brillo pad for a heart.
    All tangled up and rusted, just waitin’ to fall apart.
    They say love is patient, love is kind, and love would never count the cost, but
    lately I spend half my time just chewin’ on what I have lost.
    And I don’t want to talk about it, nobody needs to know,
    Besides, I can barely move, and I’ve just got to let it go.

    ‘Cause I wanna go to your secret garden, I want to rest there, for a while
    I’ll give to you my secret burden, ’cause I wanna laugh, I wanna smile.

    I thought that I could rise above it, flying high on angel wings,
    But I just can’t stop thinking ’bout it, how betrayal burns and stings,
    So, take the cold and unobservant, take the self-important too,
    The whispered, well-intentioned scandals, everything I give to you.

    ‘Cause I’ll meet you there, in your secret garden, I know just where you will be,
    I have in mind a brighter Eden but you I find in Gethsemane.

    And if you will, you can make me clean.
    If you will, you can make me clean.
    If you will, you can make me clean.

    I’ll follow you, to your secret garden, I will watch and wait awhile,
    Won’t you come and take these burdens, won’t you give me your sweet smile?

    • #10
    • August 25, 2018, at 11:13 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. Washington78 Coolidge

    I remember reading about the founder of Methodism, John Wesley (1703-1791). As a young Anglican priest he went as a missionary to Georgia in the early years of the colony. The leader of the colony at that time was General Oglethorpe, and according to the story he said to Wesley, “Mr. Wesley, I never forgive.” Wesley responded, “Then I hope, sir, that you never sin.”

    • #11
    • August 25, 2018, at 2:00 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  12. Henry Racette Contributor

    My favorite hymn — and hymn story, for that matter.

    Good, if sobering, post. I am blessed with a disposition that hasn’t carried a grudge; blessed far more, in truth, by a life that has provided so few opportunities for me to resent another’s actions. I hope you find peace in the current instance.

    • #12
    • August 25, 2018, at 2:22 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  13. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    My favorite hymn — and hymn story, for that matter.

    Good, if sobering, post. I am blessed with a disposition that hasn’t carried a grudge; blessed far more, in truth, by a life that has provided so few opportunities for me to resent another’s actions. I hope you find peace in the current instance.

    Thanks, Hank. I’m not a grudge carrier either. I’m trying not to make an exception to a lifetime principle here, but, as Lewis says, “this is hard.” Sometimes the violation is so massive that it’s really hard.

    • #13
    • August 25, 2018, at 4:06 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Front Seat Cat Member

    She – don’t beat yourself up – – you are on the right track, but some things especially if laws are broken, and great harm was done, take time – more time than someone taking your parking place – let the law proceed naturally as well as your ability to forgive. It’s a process right? Unless you are up for sainthood, the fact that you are looking for ways to forgive in all sorts of difficult situations but struggling makes you human, but still honoring your faith.

    • #14
    • August 25, 2018, at 4:38 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    She, I have wrestled and wrestled with forgiveness.

    One thought that I developed about my situation was this one: that since the person I couldn’t forgive had never been chastised, or confronted over what they did to me repeatedly, that in that sense I had no outside support. (They also never acknowledged their wrong doing toward me.) Without that outside support, and facing the fact that the perp had entirely escaped any sort of judgement from the community at large, then I should go easy on myself over the matter.

    As you so wisely state, we do lock ourselves in a type of hell if we let a perpetrator rent too much space in our head on a daily basis. So I tried to clear up that aspect of it first. To spend less and less time thinking about how I had been injured.

    In the tragic situation you describe, I imagine there has to be pain not only around how the people involved escaped judgement, but possibly around the issue that they never had to even acknowledge their taking the life of someone you loved.

    In my case, the person who had hurt me eventually died, being so much older than me. And then they came to me in dreams and let me know they now had to face the pain of what they had done.

    It is my belief this fate awaits those who hurt you and your loved one, by their not doing what needed to be done but instead, busily shuffling papers and dotting the “i’s” and crossing the “t’s” – while ignoring the spirit of the rules and regulations. Eventually every one of us has to examine our life’s works and see what was amiss. We have to envision how the pains we have caused others felt to those others. This is the challenge we face in the after life.

    Dickens attempts to tell us about this in his novel “A Christmas Carol.” We still have free choice – we can decide to remain the pain-causing creature we are comfortable being. Or we can cast off our old selves and toss the purse to the youngster and see to it that he goes out and buys the biggest turkey he can find for the Cratchett family.

    I also think that during this process, whatever eases your pain in this matter is a good road to take. Don’t berate yourself for being angry – you should be! So if you don’t think kind forgiving thoughts to those who committed such foulness, so what! It is a process and will sort itself out eventually. When it is possible to forgive, it will happen.

    • #15
    • August 26, 2018, at 12:00 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Thanks, @she. Judaism takes a different approach to forgiveness–

    For example, a woman who has been battered by her husband, or abused by her father, is not obliged to grant such a person mechilah unless he has, first, desisted from all abusive activity; second, reformed his character through analysis of sin, remorse, restitution, and confession; and third, actually asked for forgiveness several times. Only then, after ascertaining that he is sincere in his repentance, would a woman in such a situation be morally bound, though not legally obligated, to offer the offender mechilah.

    The principle that mechilah (wiping away the debt) ought to be granted only if deserved is the great Jewish “No” to easy forgiveness. It is core to the Jewish view of forgiveness, just as desisting from sin is core to the Jewish view of repentance. Without good grounds, the offended person should not forgo the indebtedness of the sinner; otherwise, the sinner may never truly repent and evil will be perpetuated. And, conversely, if there are good grounds to waive the debt or relinquish the claim, the offended person is morally bound to do so. This is the great Jewish “Yes” to the possibility of repentance for every sinner.

    The second kind of forgiveness is “forgiveness” (selichah). It is an act of the heart. It is reaching a deeper understanding of the sinner. It is achieving an empathy for the troubledness of the other. Selichah, too, is not a reconciliation or an embracing of the offender; it is simply reaching the conclusion that the offender, too, is human, frail, and deserving of sympathy. It is closer to an act of mercy than to an act of grace. A woman abused by a man may never reach this level of forgiveness; she is not obliged, nor is it morally necessary for her, to do so.

    The third kind is the forgiveness by G-d.

    And at this time of year, we are approaching asking forgiveness of those we have harmed, Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement. Before we can ask G-d to forgive us, we must ask the person we have harmed to forgive us. If we ask three times and they refuse three times, we have done what we could.

    And (and you know I’m still figuring all this out, too), the Jews were told not to abhor the enemy (Egyptians, for example), but they were not told to love them. Hatred can eat us alive, and working through that is a blessing for all.

    Keep going, She. You are a beautiful spirit.

    • #16
    • August 26, 2018, at 7:20 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    Easy forgiveness isn’t forgiveness at all…The pop-psych bromide of “forgiveness” on the part of the wronged party – given immediately and almost reflexively – wipes the slate clean in a way that minimizes true and lasting harm. Choosing to relinquish or channel pain caused by a wrong is, indeed, ours to attempt. Forgiveness is a two-party transaction – actually three-party, for believers. So it’s not all up to the one wronged.

    • #17
    • August 26, 2018, at 8:04 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    CarolJoy (View Comment):

    She, I have wrestled and wrestled with forgiveness.

    One thought that I developed about my situation was this one: that since the person I couldn’t forgive had never been chastised, or confronted over what they did to me repeatedly, that in that sense I had no outside support. (They also never acknowledged their wrong doing toward me.) Without that outside support, and facing the fact that the perp had entirely escaped any sort of judgement from the community at large, then I should go easy on myself over the matter.

    As you so wisely state, we do lock ourselves in a type of hell if we let a perpetrator rent too much space in our head on a daily basis. So I tried to clear up that aspect of it first. To spend less and less time thinking about how I had been injured.

    In the tragic situation you describe, I imagine there has to be pain not only around how the people involved escaped judgement, but possibly around the issue that they never had to even acknowledge their taking the life of someone you loved.

    In my case, the person who had hurt me eventually died, being so much older than me. And then they came to me in dreams and let me know they now had to face the pain of what they had done.

    It is my belief this fate awaits those who hurt you and your loved one, by their not doing what needed to be done but instead, busily shuffling papers and dotting the “i’s” and crossing the “t’s” – while ignoring the spirit of the rules and regulations. Eventually every one of us has to examine our life’s works and see what was amiss. We have to envision how the pains we have caused others felt to those others. This is the challenge we face in the after life.

    Dickens attempts to tell us about this in his novel “A Christmas Carol.” We still have free choice – we can decide to remain the pain-causing creature we are comfortable being. Or we can cast off our old selves and toss the purse to the youngster and see to it that he goes out and buys the biggest turkey he can find for the Cratchett family.

    I also think that during this process, whatever eases your pain in this matter is a good road to take. Don’t berate yourself for being angry – you should be! So if you don’t think kind forgiving thoughts to those who committed such foulness, so what! It is a process and will sort itself out eventually. When it is possible to forgive, it will happen.

    Thanks, @caroljoy for your thoughtful response and for sharing some of your experiences. The alleged culprits in my situation have actually been apprehended, and will stand trial. If they’re found guilty, the could suffer the severest of penalties. What I’m struggling with is a certain amount of glee at the thought. I think that’s what Lewis is suggesting is unChristian, and I think I agree with him! So, as you say, still working on it, and I think the process will win in the end. Hope so, anyway.

    • #18
    • August 26, 2018, at 8:14 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  19. MarciN Member

    She (View Comment):
    What I’m struggling with is a certain amount of glee at the thought.

    My sister-in-law and dear friend used to say, “I don’t wish anyone ill will. But I know it’s coming. I just want to watch!” :-)

    • #19
    • August 26, 2018, at 11:30 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. Hypatia Inactive

    Spafford went insane.

    • #20
    • August 26, 2018, at 5:02 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    Spafford went insane.

    Poor guy. Not without reason. And perhaps not so much as his wife. Nevertheless and notwithstanding the rather shaky mentals, he wrote a heartrending and beautiful hymn. Not the first to do so in that condition, and he probably won’t be the last.

    • #21
    • August 26, 2018, at 7:21 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. Henry Racette Contributor

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    Spafford went insane.

    I wasn’t familiar with that, but in any case I think it might be a poor choice of things on which to focus. After writing his famous hymn, Horatio and his wife had three more children, moved to Jerusalem and were co-founders of the American Colony. If I remember correctly, the colony provided humanitarian services to people regardless of their faith, and the associated American Colony Hotel became a place where Christians, Jews, and Muslims could meet in peace even when tensions divided the communities.

     

    • #22
    • August 26, 2018, at 7:32 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  23. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Thanks, @she. Judaism takes a different approach to forgiveness–

    Were I a monotheist, I would definitely seek to become Jewish. I think the Jewish moral code is better than the Christian code because it requires reciprocity, i.e., it’s totally of this world. To bestow forgiveness on someone who has not shown remorse is, to me, a form of cheap grace.

    I recognize that holding on to hatred or anger will damage the beholder and that it’s therefore wise to let it go. But in this day and age, the mantra to “let it go” has become synonymous with “you need to understand,” and I have a hell of a time trying to circle that square.

    It’s because I’m not perfect that I need God. I don’t feel God needs me, a sinner, to tell other people, who may be far less sinful than I, what’s morally required of them by God.

     

    • #23
    • August 27, 2018, at 9:58 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):
    To bestow forgiveness on someone who has not shown remorse is, to me, a form of cheap grace.

    Sometimes the forgiveness is what saves me when I have been hurt by another person. 

    As She said, forgiveness does not mean thinking nice and false thoughts about a person, but rather, desiring what is good for that person. Sometimes what is good for a person is not very pleasant.

    The forgiveness is for me. It does not come cheap, and any grace about it is beautiful. It does not require the other person’s repentance, and it is real. Don’t denigrate it.

    • #24
    • August 27, 2018, at 11:37 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. Henry Racette Contributor

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):
    To bestow forgiveness on someone who has not shown remorse is, to me, a form of cheap grace.

    Sometimes the forgiveness is what saves me when I have been hurt by another person.

    As She said, forgiveness does not mean thinking nice and false thoughts about a person, but rather, desiring what is good for that person. Sometimes what is good for a person is not very pleasant.

    The forgiveness is for me. It does not come cheap, and any grace about it is beautiful. It does not require the other person’s repentance, and it is real. Don’t denigrate it.

    I am reminded of Proverbs 25:21-22, which reads (NIV):

    If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
    if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
    and the Lord will reward you.

    It isn’t about forgiveness, but I’ve always been amused by its acknowledgement that an implicit reward for doing the right thing is that it will befuddle and confuse the wrong-doer. (That’s my charitable spin on the verse; its actual meaning might have been much more literal and therefore darker.)

    • #25
    • August 27, 2018, at 11:46 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):
    To bestow forgiveness on someone who has not shown remorse is, to me, a form of cheap grace.

    Sometimes the forgiveness is what saves me when I have been hurt by another person.

    As She said, forgiveness does not mean thinking nice and false thoughts about a person, but rather, desiring what is good for that person. Sometimes what is good for a person is not very pleasant.

    The forgiveness is for me. It does not come cheap, and any grace about it is beautiful. It does not require the other person’s repentance, and it is real. Don’t denigrate it.

    I don’t mean to denigrate, Mama Toad. It’s just how I see it. And everything you wrote above is how you see it. I don’t have any expectation that you should see things as I do. But I also don’t see why I can’t express how I see things in a public post without being told I’m doing a bad thing. I have no doubt that you’ve been saved by your experience of forgiveness. You’re obviously a very loving person. But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with anyone else, theologically or otherwise, as to how forgiveness must proceed.

    • #26
    • August 27, 2018, at 1:22 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):
    I don’t mean to denigrate, Mama Toad. It’s just how I see it. And everything you wrote above is how you see it. I don’t have any expectation that you should see things as I do. But I also don’t see why I can’t express how I see things in a public post without being told I’m doing a bad thing. I have no doubt that you’ve been saved by your experience of forgiveness. You’re obviously a very loving person. But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with anyone else, theologically or otherwise, as to how forgiveness must proceed.

    You are welcome to express yourself any way you like, but I also have freedom to post in a public post and ask you not to denigrate forgiveness.

    Denigrating is a bad thing. You are right to feel chastised by me.

    I am not worried if you don’t like my chastisement, and I do not require you to agree with me at any time, now or in the future.

    • #27
    • August 27, 2018, at 1:52 PM PDT
    • Like
  28. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I think you’re taking this too personally. I did not denigrate. I challenged the generally held idea.

    Wish you well, now and in the future.

    • #28
    • August 27, 2018, at 2:48 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

    Wish you well, now and in the future.

    Thank you. Same to you.

    • #29
    • August 27, 2018, at 3:36 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):
    To bestow forgiveness on someone who has not shown remorse is, to me, a form of cheap grace.

    Nothing cheap about it, Leslie. Trust me. Sometimes, the cost is very, very high. But the alternative, to carry around a hard and bitter lump in my heart towards the two of them, for the rest of my life, is to me even higher. Still worse, it gives them a measure of control over me whenever I think about them. And I won’t have that.

    The forgiving is for me. And, as Mama Toad said, it’s a part of how I save myself. From anger, from bitterness, and yes, in the case I’m talking about in my case, from vicious and corrosive hatred. Which I could, in this instance, quite easily succumb to. Trust me on that, too.

    • #30
    • August 27, 2018, at 4:17 PM PDT
    • 2 likes

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