Take a good hard look. Who and what have I not forgiven? There are the big events which still hurt, which haunt me on a bad day, when free floating hostility wants to attach to something. These are the things I have made an act of the will to forgive, the anger I have already confessed, the slow healing wounds. They are on my radar. But what about that other stuff which lurks just below the surface- the bad attitude, the intense dislike, the outrage so satisfying? It seems to be part of who I am, yet I do not even know what it is. I must ask God to show me myself, show me my wounds, show me my grudges. Show me what it is I have to forgive if I am to be forgiven myself.
What gets me riled? The thought of anyone who is manipulative, controlling or self – serving. Then there are those who have hurt my children, either through outright malice or simply by poor example. There are those who judge me without knowing me. Also, those who judge me because they know me! Especially them. There are so many mean, icky, hard things on which to fix my attention and I can feel my upper lip curl as I stare off into space, waiting for the light to change. Things I judge with only peripheral knowledge… hey… that sounds familiar! What a mess. I guess it is true that the sins we hate the most in others are our own.
Rash judgement, holding grudges- these are habits which must satisfy some need. The need to understand and thereby control a seemingly chaotic panorama of people and events. A need to justify myself. But this is not my department. I don’t get to know who, what, why. And why do I dwell on the ugly? It is the old self preservation instinct that wants to remain alert to danger. It would be downright irresponsible to let it go! Maybe this is part of what is meant by being a fool for Christ.
God is all goodness, truth and beauty. I try to imagine the transfiguration. In this overwhelming and compelling delight, the ugly stuff melts away. St. Paul says to the Philippians: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” OK, look for the good. It is there in everyone that fills my day and fills my imagination. If I perceive an evil I cannot understand, I will tell myself that the temptation must have been very great for a soul in pain. If I can use my imagination to feel God’s merciful, loving and affectionate gaze, maybe I can turn my head just slightly, and let it all go.