So many of us need it. I know I do. As a very small child I learned what we called the Our Father ( Ah Fathah) and lots of people call it the Lord's Prayer, as indeed it is, the disciples asked and so he taught, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." It is a funny thing with Christians. When I say that I am sorry, I was wrong for opening my mouth and putting my foot in it. The response is often, "that's ok." Well, no, it is not ok. When I am saying I am truly sorry, I am asking for forgiveness. It leaves me to wonder, do these brothers and sisters in Christ forgive me or do they reserve the right to hold it against me?
Because I did not grow up learning about the exchange of confession of sin and a loving response through forgiveness, Dan and I set out to help our children in this area. When you do wrong to your brother or sister, you don't just say, "sorry" with a pouty face, instead you say, "I am sorry I hit you with my teddy bear." We had them name their sin and then the response was, "I forgive you." Once when the girls were very small, Grace told Katie that she had to forgive her or God wasn't going to forgive Katie for 2 weeks. We still laugh about that one.
So, it puzzles me. I fall short and find myself sinning against the ones I love and I make myself vulnerable, name my sin and apologize but the ones who are called ministers of reconciliation don't verbally forgive me and are content with a trite "that's ok." (IT IS NOT OK) It doesn't console me that my side of the street is clean. I decided that I needed to look up some scriptures concerning this issue,
14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
25And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."[a]
37"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
I don't want my beloved left in an unforgiven state any more than I want to be left there. Going over this post with one of my children, I realized that for someone to say, "I forgive you." is admitting that my sin hurt you and that is a vulnerable place to be. The thing is, that when someone is willing to complete this relational exchange by being that vulnerable it makes the friendship stronger and the love deeper.
This post is dedicated to my dear friend CK.