As I’ve pondered and prayed about what to share this month, I have felt stuck. Since beginning this blog experience in 2018, I’ve committed to only write when I’ve felt led—not to force anything. So…I have been praying and waiting. Last night a friend shared with me her reflections on a book both of us are reading—Spiritual Direction…Wisdom for the long walk of faith by Henri Nouwen. As I listened to her share, I felt deeply moved, and I knew I had the material for this blog. So, I am simply going to share a section of this book that moved my friend and me. I pray that as you read, God may speak in a way that is personal and meaningful to you and your life today. I will preface this by saying that forgiveness from the heart is a true grace and gift from God. It is not something we can do on our own. Thus, the blog title—IT’S DIVINE. We can pray for it and keep ourselves open to God’s ongoing healing in our hearts.
“Within the discipline of life in community are the twin gifts of forgiveness and celebration that need to be opened and used regularly. What is forgiveness? Forgiveness means that I continually am willing to forgive the other person for not fulfilling all my needs and desires. Forgiveness says, ‘I know you love me, but you don’t have to love me unconditionally, because only God can do that.’ I too must ask forgiveness for not being able to fulfill other people’s total needs, for no human being can do that.
We all have wounds. We all live in pain and disappointment. We all have feelings of loneliness that lurk beneath all our successes, feelings of uselessness that hide under all the praise, feelings of meaninglessness even when people say we are fantastic—and that is what makes us sometimes grab onto people and expect from them affection, affirmation, and love that they cannot give. If we want other people to give us something that only God can give, we are guilty of idolatry. We say, ‘Love me!’ and before long we become demanding and manipulative. It’s so important that we keep forgiving one another—not once in a while but every moment of life. This is what makes community possible, when we come together in a forgiving and undemanding way.
Our heart longs for satisfaction, for total communion. But human beings, whether it’s your husband, your wife, your father, mother, brother, sister, or child, are all limited in giving the level of love and acceptance we all crave. But since we want so much and we get only part of what we want, we have to keep on forgiving people for not giving us all we want. So, I forgive you since you can only love me in a limited way. I forgive my mother that she is not everything I would like her to be. I forgive my father because he did the best he could. This is of enormous importance right now because constantly people look to blame their parents, their friends, and the church for not giving them what they need. Many people are so angry. They cannot forgive people for offering only limited expressions of an unlimited love. God’s love is unlimited; our love is not. Any relationship you enter into—in communion, friendship, marriage, community, or church—will always be riddled with frustration and disappointment. So, forgiveness becomes the word for divine love in the human context.
Community is not possible without the willingness to forgive one another ‘seventy-seven times’ (Matthew 18:22) Forgiveness is the cement of community life. Forgiveness holds us all together through good and bad times, and it allows us to grow in mutual love.
As people who have hearts that long for perfect love, we have to forgive one another for not being able to give or receive that perfect love in our everyday lives. Our many needs constantly interfere with our desire to be there for the other unconditionally. Our love is always limited by spoken and unspoken conditions. What needs to be forgiven? We need to forgive one another for not being God.”
During these cooler days, may we draw closer to the Divine and let God warm our hearts with love and forgiveness.