Broken-down Poetry: on Forgiveness


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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

on Forgiveness

This is the worst one.


Yesterday the newspaper staff had a meeting about some of the problems we've been having this year so far. I brought up a long list of clerical issues - stuff we couldn't have anticipated earlier on - hoping to diffuse any catty fighting before it began. Our staff has turned against each other; I call it "the War." I thought talking about productive issues like how to get people to turn assignments in on time would keep any emotional stuff from surfacing.

Yeah right.

The song kept popping into my head: "If we're adding to the noise, turn off this song."

I've added to the noise.

I pretended to be Switzerland; I've become Benedict Arnold, a backstabber. The traitor on both sides. I'm not a revolutionary; I'm not a Tory.

I gossip. I can't stop doing it! I slander. I don't obey the post-it note on my desk: "God wants me to love [coworker's name]."

I don't hate bigotry; I hate bigots. I don't hate war; I hate warmongers.

It's as if every lesson I've learned about love has been erased: I've edited them into nonentity. It turns out being bitter/angry/wrathful is way easier than forgiving.


This is the hardest one: I don't know how to forgive. I know how to say it: "I forgive you," but I don't really know how to forgive.

I wrote an essay on forgiveness for Sentence Strategies about my stepmom, about how I haven't forgiven her for her alcoholism and the effects thereof. I told her that I forgave her, and it's not that I've been mulling over her past mistakes or anything. But I still don't think I've forgiven her.

I think forgiveness takes reconciliation.

I hate that word. It's a tough, tough word. It implies action. It implies humility. It involves me asking for forgiveness for my unwillingness to forgive.


The thing is, I know that this newspaper stuff isn't all that I need to ask forgiveness for. There's another publication that I've stirred drama over: dear RELEVANT. I feel burdened to ask Cameron for forgiveness.


It's ironic that what I thought I hated about RELEVANT is the very thing I'm engaging in. I am not being very Christ-like. Huh.


At the beginning of this school year, I found myself hating people on campus for no good reason. This happened frequently:

Lauren: Arrg. There's [insert name of NECC intern]. He hasn't even acknowledged me all school year.
Abby: Well, why don't you say hi to him.
Lauren: But he's a leader. And it was my church he interned at.
Lindsey: Oh geez.
Those people don't need to be forgiven - isn't this interesting? - but I feel like they need to apologize to me. Huh. I think people owe me something. They owe me a "hello" or a nod or something. But they don't.

No one owes me anything ...
... but I'm in debt to them.

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another. ..."

They don't owe me Grace, but I owe them Grace. It's not their attitudes or behaviors that I need to change, but my own attitude toward them.


Before our meeting ended, Dr. Huckins closed with a prayer. He mentioned a verse in his prayer, and it stuck with me:
"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. ..." Romans 12:10
I like that: "giving 'preference' to one another." Not only am I going to forgive you or ask you to forgive me, I'm going to prefer you over myself. I'm going to prefer being around you than being away from you. I'm going to prefer you to be my boss and no one else.

What a radical ("rooty") picture of forgiveness. And Grace.

It's not just a way to take care of the immediate issue ("I'm mad at you about this and this") but a way to get to the root of it, to reconcile, and keep bitterness from brewing.

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