Father, forgive him
- April 08, 2015
- Anna Moseley Gissing
I’ve been angry recently. I’m in the middle of some circumstances that feel unjust. And it’s easy to blame one person whose individual decisions have had ramifications for my family and me. This person’s actions disproportionately affected me.
What’s been frustrating is that I feel misunderstood and unheard. This friend made decisions that were right for him and for his family without considering how those same decisions might affect others. He’s blissfully unaware of my hardship.
My husband wisely reminded me that being mad wouldn’t do any good. But I couldn’t shake the anger. My friend was silent and unsympathetic. Instead of feeling heard, I became more angry and defensive.
How can I forgive someone who has no idea he has hurt me? Is it possible? Is it possible to just let go of my anger without resolution? That’s not my normal modus operandi. Instead, I prefer to talk things through, over and over (and over) if necessary, until there is mutual understanding and reconciliation. And talking through doesn’t seem possible this time around.
What is my hope? I can’t change the past. I can’t change the decisions made or the consequences. I have reflected on how my family handled the consequences, and I can’t figure out much we could have done differently.
Impasse. Anger I can’t seem to let go. A situation over which I had no control. A relationship I can’t mend because the other party doesn’t know there is a break.
As I loaded groceries into my car last week, Jesus’ words came to mind: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Indeed it was Good Friday. And instead of meditating on Jesus’ sacrifice of love on the cross, I was angry and frustrated at not getting what I thought I deserved.
Jesus recognized that the crowds around him did not understand the consequences of their actions on that fateful day. Though they chose to crucify him, Jesus asked the Father to forgive them. He did not sit across the table from them talking through their decisions and the way he had been affected before forgiving them. In the midst of violent suffering, he did not hold it against them.
In my case, my friend knows not what he does nor how I am experiencing the consequences. Even still, my suffering is nothing compared to the agony of the cross. Because of Jesus’ words and example, I too can enact this powerful forgiveness. With forgiveness, anger passes away.