Have you ever attended a seminar or conference and been inundated with information to the point that by the time you leave you can’t remember much of anything that you heard, even though you took copious notes? That is a common occurrence and one that I had this past weekend at this year's Seattle University’s "Search for Meaning" book fair. This event brings together authors whose works focus on our never-ending search for meaning in such arenas as spirituality, diversity, and social justice. After spending the day listening to amazing speakers I walked away struck by just 2 words that I heard in one of the sessions. These 2 words weren’t an integral part of the presentation but they wouldn't leave me.
The two words that stayed with me? Forgive More…I don’t know why but they resonated somewhere deep inside. I struggle with forgiveness – of others and of myself. I know the importance of forgiveness but more forgiveness? I’m pretty happy with Forgive Just Enough.
Many years ago I was walking thru a grocery store and said hello to a woman I knew from church. She looked surprised and said, “Oh, so you’re talking to me now?” I was confused. “What do you mean by that? Why wouldn’t I be talking to you?” “Well Roberta,” she replied, “You've been ignoring me for awhile now, but I'm not surprised because everyone knows that you can hold a grudge for a very long time.” Ouch….I felt defensive and my ego’s first response was “No I don’t do that, it’s just not true!” but after really thinking about it I realized there was truth in what she had said. It doesn’t help that holding grudges is part of my DNA. I come from Northern Ireland, a country that has raised the level of holding grudges into an art form. It was common in my family of origin to cut people off for years after an offense or a perceived offense. But that is no excuse. Good grief, I wasn’t even aware that I wasn’t talking to this woman! And there are those two words again: Forgive More.
In my work as a hospice chaplain one of the prayers that people love to hear and recite is The Lord’s Prayer. You know how it starts: "Our Father, who does art in Heaven, Harold be your name." Are you familiar with that version? No? Well children are! Probably because they haven’t learned all the rules about the “right way” to pray and they have the wonderful ability to hear and interpret words they don't understand in their own way.
There is another line in that prayer that is my favorite interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer. It was written by a 4 year old – and we all know how wise a 4 year old can be. In Jesus’ version the line says “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” What is a trespass? An offense, sin, wrong, transgression, or debt. Here’s the 4 year old version of that verse: “Forgive us our trash baskets, as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.”
Forgive more. Maybe it means to empty my trash basket. Maybe it means to think about what trash I'm putting in others’ baskets. And maybe it means to just Forgive More.
photo from here