“Interestingly, forgiveness can only occur because we have been given the gift of the ability to make choices. We have the choice to forgive or not to forgive and no one can force us to do either. Conversely, if we want to forgive someone no one can stop us no matter how poorly they may act. This ability to forgive is a manifestation of the personal control that we have in our lives. It is nice to reflect upon and feel the respect we have been given to be able to make such profound choices.” —Frederic Luskin
In receiving God’s forgiveness we are infused with ability. This is something very powerfully demonstrated in the birth narratives we explored in Advent and at Christmas. Mary and Joseph were the recipients of God’s for-giving; they were gifted with new possibility, and they were led to make inspired choices. Each experienced a dramatic interruption of life-as-usual, and went on to become a living interruption in the midst of the larger world.
The quote above from Frederic Luskin, who has done extensive study and writing on the subject of forgiveness, is compelling. Luskin’s writing is not presented in a theological frame, yet the deep connection is unmistakable in my view. It points us toward an incarnational faith in which we affirm that:
(1) Our ability to practice forgiveness with others flows forth from what we already have been given.
(2) This entrusting of us by God is a deep expression of God’s respect for us.
(3) Forgiving others is always a choice we are empowered to make.
(4) No bad behavior on the part of others can prevent us from practicing forgiveness, if that is what we have determined we will do.
(5) We are even free to make the choice to not be offended by another’s behavior (yikes!).
Where do these affirmations ring true in your experience? And where might they hit ground even now?
(Quote from: Luskin, “Four Steps Toward Forgiveness,” Healing Currents magazine, Sept/Oct 1996)