When it feels impossible to forgive

Father, forgive them. . .


Father. One small word, two syllables of heart cry, but through it Jesus teaches me to forgive. I’ve just seen it, how my struggles to forgive find root in fear. Or in not knowing who I am. Or maybe those two are one.


Father. Love enfolds me, holds me while I let go of the fear. My Father will provide. He knows my needs. He cares. I don’t always like the wrapping, but His gifts are always good. And He only ever gives them in a time and a way that leads me into life. I can trust this Father of mine.


Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? . . . So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For . . . your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (Matt 6:26, 31-32)


Father. His arms teach me who I am, give me the identity I crave. I am His. Chosen. I belong here. His arms remind me that I have nothing to prove, no need to insist on my rightness.

Jesus knew the power of this beloved-child identity. It taught him to forgive and to serve, washing the dirty feet which would, that night, lead his killers to him. It freed him to bend before other feet which would run in his time of greatest need.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;  so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet . . . (John 13:3-5)

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt 5:44-45)


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matt 5:9)


“Father, Father, forgive.” And the miracle happens. What was impossible to forgive becomes possible, done by His power in me. The place of fear has been filled with His presence, the opportunity to forgive transformed into a chance to love Him. I may struggle again, may be back to crying, “Father, forgive.” But for this moment, my prayer, Jesus’ prayer in me, has been heard and answered by our Father, and I am free and full of joy.


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