Forgiveness that lasts
THE children have been sent off to school. Dad has picked up his lunch and gone out the door. Mom scans the messy scene and focuses her attention on the family room, which daily living has turned into a disaster. Odds and ends are scattered everywhere. She zooms in on the pile of papers, bills, hardware, and other items left in a heap by her husband. A couple of days of this is OK, but weeks are too much. With a spirit of inspiration she gathers up all his things and finds a spot in the desk drawer where her husband can store it all. After several hours of cleaning, she scans her work, patting herself on the back for a job well done. As evening approaches, four children converge on the family room. Mom begins to feel a letdown as her well-done job disintegrates before her eyes. Dad whirls through the door, finding that his sorted bills have all been dumped into a drawer. Words of terror reign. And so goes on the battle. Or does it?
You see, this mom has battled many times before, but this time she has discovered there need be no battle. Earlier, she would have found herself sucked into a cycle of hurt feelings, self-pity, accusations, criticisms, and misunderstandings. A hardness would have developed in the relationship, threatening its very existence. In a way, this was all because she had allowed herself to indulge in thinking that God didn't make. Through her study of Christian Science she has discovered that this scene never need be repeated and that true forgiveness lasts.
She saw, through study of the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy,1 that there is a God who exists now as He did in Jesus' time. This God is divine Love itself; divine Life, Truth, Principle, the one all-knowing Mind, the all-moving Soul, and the ever-powering Spirit. As she studied more, she saw that this one supreme, intelligent Mind imparts good alone, never qualities of destructiveness. The destructive tendencies are products of the universal belief in a mind apart from good, in the fleshly, carnal mentality that St. Paul said is ``enmity against God.''2 But this so-called mind has no genuine power, because all power belongs to God. God impels compassion, understanding, caring, forgiveness.
She saw that living with others requires that we practice a lot of forgiveness. Certainly, some measures could be taken at home to stop messiness and inconsideration. But that wasn't the real issue, not at that moment. The need was to realize deeply that God, Love, is All and that the tendencies of the carnal mind are fraudulent.
She saw there exists a spiritual meaning to forgiveness; that it is more than just one human forgiving another. The deepest kind of forgiveness says, ``I forgave you even before the incident occurred, because it was never the real you or the real me.'' Didn't Jesus say of his crucifiers, ``Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do''?3 Jesus' teachings and healing works point to the fact that man's real identity is seen only in God's pure qualities.
This mom saw that genuine forgiveness perceives man's innocence, his separateness from the carnal mind's tendencies, which appear as our own personal thought about ourselves or someone else. She also saw her own and her family's God-given freedom from having to indulge in such thinking. No one need be offended. No one need be seen as offensive. The deepest kind of forgiveness, springing from a perception of man's true nature as God's expression, knows no sin committed, no sin to forgive, no sinning man.
Because God is infinite, there is no end to His blessings, nor can they be interrupted. ``Brood o'er us with Thy shelt'ring wing,/'Neath which our spirits blend...'' are the opening words of a poem by Mrs. Eddy. And she says further along, ``The arrow that doth wound the dove/Darts not from those who watch and love.'' If we happen not to be watching, she tells us the remedy: Pray that his spirit you partake,
Who loved and healed mankind: Seek holy thoughts and heavenly strain, That make men one in love remain.4
When relationships become strained, refuse to fight in a battle of destructiveness. Turn to the only God, the One who loves you, enfolds you, created you. He'll lift you high. I know--I am that mom. Of course, I can't say there's never been another mess. But we're all learning much about love and forgiveness.
1The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2Romans 8:7. 3Luke 23:34. 4Poems, p. 6. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32