Forgiveness Starts with Jesus

A pastor friend, when discussing worship experiences based on forgiving others, said he once gave everyone in the congregation a tongue depressor and instructed them to write the name of someone they needed to forgive on it.  He then invited those who were ready to let that debt go to snap the tongue depressors on the count of three.  The sound, he said, of all those cracking depressors was a powerful experience knowing that people were attempting to let go of sins against them.

He later saw one of the congregation members who had attached his broken tongue depressor to his key chain so that he'd have a constant reminder of his decision to forgive the one he wanted to forgive.

We'd all be grateful if popping a single tongue depressor would relieve us of all the hurt and anger we feel toward those who've sinned against us.  The man who held on to his broken depressors realized it would be an ongoing struggle, but, also, that it's worth the struggle to obey Jesus' command to forgive and receive the gift of letting go of the bitterness.

I shared the tongue depressor story with Sally and asked her who she'd write on the stick.  Bracing for the response to be me, it turned out that's exactly what she said ("Me.").

In her wisdom she recognized that a major hurdle to forgiving others is forgiving ourselves.  We wonder how we'd let someone treat us that way or how we'd let someone treat someone we love that way or how we'd get into a situation where whatever happened could happen.  There is a lot of self-indictment when it comes to being sinned against.

Our hope of being able to forgive another starts with Jesus - who stands ready to forgive us (and is able to fully forgive immediately), followed by our forgiving ourselves, which helps us get to a stable-enough faith foundation that we can go further in the direction of forgiving another.  May God help us on that journey.