I have had so many things on my mind lately. I haven’t taken too much time to blog thoughts but I think I may start. This is helpful for me to think and maybe it will give you interesting food for thought, too. This past Sunday was Easter. Our church had a non-traditional Easter service. The title of the service was “The Bridge.” The essence of the message was about building a bridge to other people, much as God built the most amazing bridge to people with the death and resurrection of Christ. There was a bridge on the stage for people to cross as symbolism of their submission and acceptance of God’s bridge and becoming a bridge to others. In light of Easter and the message, I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness. What an amazing gift! As humans it is beyond our natural capacity to forgive fully. We have the ideal example of it in Christ—how to love and forgive beyond measure. I have friends and family locked in the pain of hurt and unforgiveness. It is such a difficult place to be. I struggle with how to help them cope sometimes. It boils down to a decision to turn the pain over. At some point, you have to forgive and move on. Moving on without reconciliation is not forgiveness at all. If you have peace with a situation but no reconciliation with a person where there was a conflict, it isn’t true peace. There is peace in your heart but it is a self-induced, prideful peace. It does not touch the love of Christ. To move on, you have to forgive another person and you have to forgive yourself. To forgive the person you have to make peace with them. To forgive you have to reach out to the other person and build a bridge of peace. It doesn’t mean that a relationship will be as it was before. I know that Christ’s example suggests that it will be even better but I also know that our humanity makes that exceedingly difficult. If a person thinks they have forgiven another but the relationship is gone, there is no forgiveness. There is only acceptance of a conflict or a bad situation. Acceptance is not forgiveness. Acceptance does not offer anyone peace. You also have to forgive yourself. I think this is important because a conflict takes two people. I am always reminding my boys that you cannot fight or argue by yourself. First you have to own up to the struggle and weakness in your own life. It is humbling. As you do that you are given the opportunity to reach out to a greater power—the power of God. Only then can you experience the gifts from God, including true forgiveness, the ability to forgive and have peace.
There have been times in my life when I was approached by another person asking for reconciliation when I did not know a disconnect existed. Those times have been very surprising and humbling to me. I do not always know how I come across to others. I am not always aware of my selfish nature. It is humbling to recognize my selfish nature. We all have a selfish nature. The question is do I, do we, have a willingness to submit to God, relinquish control, and admit our need. Can we admit that we are just as needy as anyone who has ever offended us? Can we admit that we are just as needy as that person with different values? Can we realize that we are just as loved by God? God sees us all the same—he died for us all. We should submit to God and ask for him to help us reach out to others. Our lives should radiate God’s love and we should live in harmony with others (especially our families and fellow believers in God). Of course, really, we are called to live at peace-with forgiveness and love in our hearts-with everyone. [Romans 12:18: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.]