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Be Reconciled, One to Another

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
Rembrandt - Prodigal Son

Sometimes it is difficult to see the value in seeking forgiveness or granting forgiveness. It’s easier to think that I’m right and they’re just being stubborn or to just go on sulking about the way she treated me. The thoughts that easily creep to mind are: I can’t let her get away with that! or He’ll probably just treat me that way again if I let him think I’m weak enough to forgive him. or No way am I apologizing first after the way she treated me!

But these thoughts are destructive. They are destructive of relationships.

No one of us is perfect. We all fall at different points in time. I don’t know about you, but I want mercy in those times I am weak. I don’t want to be made to feel like my wrongdoing is a stone which sinks me deeper into the abyss that I’ve thrown myself into by my actions or words. I want to be cut free. Free to swim alongside my friend, rather than sink further away.

If the good Lord can forgive our shortcomings so easily, how can we deny the same to others?

If we can’t learn the art of forgiveness, we might as well be pouring cement into our hearts, watching it set until it becomes impenetrable.

forgive

These past few weeks have been rough. Every single one of us has been sick, and most with multiple issues. It has made for some very tense moments. The overwhelming fatigue has not helped anything. We’re already very much in survival mode as Steve finishes off his final semester of grad school, so to add one more thing to the mix has made the days seem insurmountable at times.

I began the few days leading up to Ash Wednesday, this Lent, thinking of the self-imposed penances I would take on. But there was no need. God has gifted me my Lent. He is showing me where I need to be strengthened and what rough edges need to be made smooth. He knows me better than I know myself.

Lent is traditionally seen as a good time to seek reconciliation with God in particular areas where we find we are turning our backs on Him. But this is equally important with the people in our lives. As a college professor used to remind us, our vertical relationship {with God} is often a mirror of our horizontal relationship {with others}. Since what we do unto others, we do unto Him, we must strive to strengthen and maintain the relationships He places in our lives.

So with all of the tough stuff I mentioned going on at home, we’ve been practicing the art of forgiveness on the horizontal plane. A lot.

A few days ago, I got offended over something I really shouldn’t have after an interaction I had with Steve. In the moment, I felt he was being rude, when really it was me. I didn’t feel well. I was deep in chores that were piling up by the minute. No excuse, really. But isn’t it easy to make them? Isn’t it easy to tell ourselves that we’re not the ones at fault?

It took a few minutes, but I realized my mistake. I walked over and wrapped my arms around him, asking for forgiveness.

I’m not always this quick to notice my mistakes. Nor am I always this quick to seek forgiveness. Sometimes I just want to wallow in my pride and continue counting up the points against the other person, ticking off the reasons why it couldn’t be my fault.

But, I find, that if I recognize even one thing to be my fault, I should tear down the invisible wall being erected between us by reaching out a olive branch of peace. It doesn’t help to continue laying on the bricks.

Especially with things stewing in a household between family members, you set yourselves up for further offense. Hatred builds in a place where love should reign supreme.

I noticed an immediate response from him of broken tension. The hurt began rushing away.

I am very blessed to have such an understanding man, who accepts my olive branches, even on my worst days.

 

Steve and I work on offering and accepting forgiveness between ourselves not only for the sake of our own relationship, but also as an example to our daughters. We, too, teach them to say sorry when they have hurt another. We ask for their forgiveness when we have made a mistake or offended them. They will gain a stronger sense of God’s mercy through these acts and be better able to ask His forgiveness when they begin to recognize an ability to sin.

We image the mercy of God to them and to each other. 

reconciliation

As Pope Francis remarked today,

“We are ministers of mercy thanks to God’s mercy, and we must never lose this view to the supernatural that makes us truly humble, welcoming and merciful towards every brother and sister who wishes to confess.”

Let us be mercy to one another so that His mercy, too, may be sought. Let us live and love as Christ does, so that by our example we may bring others to rest in His love.

 

Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offense you can suffer from them is nothing compared to what God has forgiven you. {St. Josemaria Escriva ~ The Way 452} 

One Thought on “Be Reconciled, One to Another

  1. Nancy on March 12, 2015 at 1:33 pm said:

    Amen! Thank you, Laurel, for those words of truth – what a great encouragement! I hope you are all well again soon 🙂

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