How can I use my faith to learn how to forgive?


By Voices of Faith

The Rev. Bob Hill, pastor emeritus, Community Christian Church: All who ask this question and earnestly seek answers to it are already on the way to life-saving learnings about forgiveness and wholeness.

Becoming better acquainted with your faith’s scriptures, prayers and rituals will result in exciting insights and a powerful impact on your life.

Reading scripture can remind you of forbearers who have been where you are now. A regular disciplined recitation of prayers can provide peace and confidence to do the challenging work of forgiveness. Participating in forgiveness rituals (annually or weekly) can shape your life with hope and grace.

Of course, faith is always lived out best in community. If you have a faith home, seek the guidance of your leaders. If you don’t currently have a faith community, ask a friend who exemplifies a forgiving spirit about their place of worship and join them for a service or a study group.

As we probe sacred texts, special prayers, cherished rituals and the life of a faith community, one thing becomes clear: We are best fulfilled as human beings when we learn how to give and receive forgiveness.

Christianity’s most famous prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, describes forgiveness as a two-way street: “… forgive us our trespasses (sins), as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us.”

And always remember: Forgiveness is the supreme antidote to the harsh and destructive impossibility of perfectionism. At the root of all worthy religions is a precious proposition: There is always more merciful forgiveness in God than there are misdeeds in us.

The Rev. Duke Tufty, senior pastor, Unity Temple on the Plaza: My understanding of faith is having absolute conviction in and commitment to something that cannot be sensed or proven in any way.

Hope is, “I want this to happen.” Faith is, “I know this will happen.” It is believing without reservation, hesitation or the slightest doubt that which hasn’t happened and there is no evidence to indicate it ever will, most definitely will happen.

You ask how do you use faith to forgive. Say you are walking down the path of life when you stumble over a big rock, fall down and get hurt. Forgiveness is taking a moment to center yourself, pick yourself up, tend to your hurts and continue on free of thought about the situation.

Not forgiving is picking up the big rock and carrying it with you as a reminder of the hurt it caused. It has been said that, “Not forgiving is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.”

It is important to keep in mind that thoughts of hatred and resentment are in you. They are like poison to the soul that you live with 24 hours a day, and they sicken you.

Forgive literally means to “give for.” When we forgive somebody or something, we give up negative thoughts toward the situation that weaken and sicken us for positive thoughts that allow us peace of mind and a sense of well being.

The act of forgiveness is for our individual benefit and has little to do with the other person. You can use faith in forgiveness by knowing, beyond the slightest doubt, that it is in your best interest, you will feel incredibly better and a sense of lightness will return to your life when you forgive.

To reach the Voices of Faith columnists, send email to [email protected]. Column courtesy of the Associated Press.

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